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 New risk factors for anxiety disorders
24.02.2017 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg

nachricht Stingless bees have their nests protected by soldiers
24.02.2017 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Stingless bees have their nests protected by soldiers

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

New risk factors for anxiety disorders

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

MWC 2017: 5G Capital Berlin

24.02.2017 | Trade Fair News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>