Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Tiny worms paving way for better anesthetics

24.10.2005


Ten genes that may make patients more or less susceptible to a common anesthetic agent have been identified by researchers using tiny worms and sophisticated technology that eliminates the activity of individual genes.



“We are anesthetizing 25 million patients a year in the United States alone; we put them to sleep and wake them up and we still don’t know a lot about why it happens,” said Dr. Steffen E. Meiler, vice chair of research for the Medical College of Georgia Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine and a study author. “A lot of research has been done but the main mechanisms of how these volatile anesthetics (volatility means the anesthetics move easily from liquid to gaseous form) work have really alluded us.”

Drs. Meiler, Aamir Nazir and their colleagues are taking advantage of advances in genomics and technology to begin to identify those mechanisms with the ultimate goal of better drugs.


“Eventually what we would like to do is design more specific drugs,” says Dr. Meiler of the work being presented during the American Society of Anesthesiologists annual meeting Oct. 22-26 in Atlanta. “The principal question is how can we design anesthetic drugs that have the desired effect of rendering a patient unconscious during surgery without affecting other brain functions that lead to adverse effects,” he says.

Critical pieces have come together to make the studies possible including the relatively recent finding that volatile anesthetics interact with proteins. Now that they know they need to look at proteins, sophisticated RNA interference technology enables researchers to do so by stopping the usual process in which information encoded by a singular gene is transformed into a cellular protein.

Tiny C. elegans, free-living soil nematodes that share 50 percent to 60 percent of their genes with humans and are the first study animals to have their genome decoded and sequenced, have given the scientists a manageable model for knocking out select genes, giving anesthetics and measuring the results.

The researchers started their work with the 637 genes known to be expressed in the nervous system of the C. elegans. They designed a tiny gas chamber to deliver Isofluran to the worms. Not unlike earlier days in anesthesiology – before sophisticated monitoring such as the bispectral index system that measures brainwave activity to determine a patient’s level of consciousness during surgery – the researchers assessed the anesthetic effect from just watching their subjects. They compared the movement of anesthetized worms to controls.

“This is the best genetic model system,” says Dr. Nazir. “The worms we study are about the same age and carry the same genes. If there is a difference between the control and the knock-down mutant, we know that particular gene has something to do with the anesthetic, he says. Using this method, they initially identified 37 candidate genes.

Next, they applied a sophisticated quantification system, developed in conjunction with the California Institute of Technology, that allows 144 precise, objective measures of how far anesthetized worms and the controls travel, including speed, top speed, roaming range, track patterns and other complex behaviors.

That systematic analysis narrowed the field to 10 genes – nine that are hypersensitive and one that is resistant – that are biological modifiers of the anesthetic effects of drugs, Dr. Nazir says.

“These are modifier genes that influence the effect, the degree, the extent of the anesthetic effect,” says Dr. Meiler. “We cannot yet say these are direct targets of volatile anesthetics. That is to be tested in another series of studies.”

Rather, these first steps have shown the researchers their approach works, so they are moving toward a genome screen in these tiny worms that includes genes whose function is unknown.

Drs. Zhong Chen, research associate, and C. Alvin Head, chair of the MCG Department of Anesthesiology, are co-authors on the study.

Toni Baker | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.mcg.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Making fuel out of thick air
08.12.2017 | DOE/Argonne National Laboratory

nachricht ‘Spying’ on the hidden geometry of complex networks through machine intelligence
08.12.2017 | Technische Universität Dresden

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells

Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.

To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...

Im Focus: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...

Im Focus: Successful Mechanical Testing of Nanowires

With innovative experiments, researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrums Geesthacht and the Technical University Hamburg unravel why tiny metallic structures are extremely strong

Light-weight and simultaneously strong – porous metallic nanomaterials promise interesting applications as, for instance, for future aeroplanes with enhanced...

Im Focus: Virtual Reality for Bacteria

An interdisciplinary group of researchers interfaced individual bacteria with a computer to build a hybrid bio-digital circuit - Study published in Nature Communications

Scientists at the Institute of Science and Technology Austria (IST Austria) have managed to control the behavior of individual bacteria by connecting them to a...

Im Focus: A space-time sensor for light-matter interactions

Physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (run jointly by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics) have developed an attosecond electron microscope that allows them to visualize the dispersion of light in time and space, and observe the motions of electrons in atoms.

The most basic of all physical interactions in nature is that between light and matter. This interaction takes place in attosecond times (i.e. billionths of a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Midwife and signpost for photons

11.12.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

How do megacities impact coastal seas? Searching for evidence in Chinese marginal seas

11.12.2017 | Earth Sciences

PhoxTroT: Optical Interconnect Technologies Revolutionized Data Centers and HPC Systems

11.12.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>