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Texas researchers discover ‘mutant worms’ that could lead to new alcoholism drug

Experts at the University of Texas at Austin have developed mutant worms that “can’t get drunk” and are believed to have the potential for the development of a new form of treatment for thousands of alcoholics in the United States.

According to a news release on Science Daily, the researchers made the discovery after inserting a modified alcohol target into the worms. An alcohol target is a kind of brain molecule that binds to alcohol.

However, without the modified alcohol target, the worm species used in the study called Caenorhabditis elegans, showed signs of intoxication. The worms stopped laying eggs and exhibited slower and restricted movements.

The researchers specifically tweaked a channel in the alcohol target called BK to make it alcohol-insensitive without disturbing its normal functions and that of the alcohol target. The BK channel regulates the activity of blood vessels, neurons, the respiratory, and urinary tract.

“Our findings provide exciting evidence that future pharmaceuticals might aim at this portion of the alcohol target to prevent problems in alcohol abuse disorders,” the study’s corresponding author Jon Pierce-Shimomura said in a university press statement.

“However, it remains to be seen which aspects of these disorders would benefit,” he noted.

The study marks the first time a human alcohol target has been modified to keep an animal from feeling booze’s effects, according to Pierce-Shimomura, who also serves as assistant professor in the university's College of Natural Sciences and Waggoner Center for Alcohol and Addiction Research.

The news release disclosed that C. elegans is not as ideal as mice for alcohol addiction research. The modified BK channel utilized in the research can also be applied to mice.

Every year, 85,000 people die from alcohol-related incidents. Alcohol ranks third in the leading preventable cause of death in the U.S., the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) noted.

An estimated 17 million Americans suffer from alcohol use disorders, according to data from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. 15 percent of these individuals are untreated.

Under treatment and gross misdiagnosis of alcoholics are two primary reasons why alcoholism remains in epidemic levels. According to a JAMA study, only 10 percent of patients are prescribed alcohol meds—particularly naltrexone and acamprosate, which have been proven more effective than other drugs to stop alcohol dependency.

One company that is committed in putting an end to alcoholism is BioCorRx, Inc. (OTCQB: BICX). BioCorRx, Inc. is a leading addiction rehabilitation company in the U.S. that utilizes naltrexone in implant form through its Start Fresh Program to battle addiction.

The implant slowly releases naltrexone into the alcoholic person’s system for several months to curb his or her physical cravings to alcohol. Naltrexone basically keeps an alcoholic person from experiencing “pleasure feelings” during alcohol consumption, hopefully discouraging patients from touching another alcoholic beverage ever again.

Brady Granier, COO of BioCorRx, stated, “It’s not a silver bullet, but Naltrexone is an amazing drug and can be very effective for those that want to quit.”

BioCorRx, Inc. grants license and distribution rights to rehabilitation clinics across the United States to its Start Fresh Program. Since last year, the company has entered several agreements with a number of Start Fresh Program licensees and distributors in Washington, D.C., and in the states of Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, Minnesota, Missouri and Oklahoma.