Thursday, November 23, 2006

Worms hooked on nicotine

Experimenters have demonstrated nicotine dependence in C. elegans, a tiny worm raised in laboratories. Dosed with worm-sized quantities of the chemical, the worms show behavioral responses to nicotine that parallel those observed in mammals, including acute response, tolerance, withdrawal, and sensitization. Because of the relative simplicity of the worm's constitution, researchers were able to isolate the genetic elements involved in the nicotine response. The research was published in the journal Cell. The discovery rated an article in the New York Times, here. The demonstration that addiction happens in non-human mammals and now even in worms challenges psychogenic theories that point to human emotional or spiritual maladjustment as causes of addiction.

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