Home
 
Choose Your City
Change City

Fish in troubled water may hold clues to alcoholism

Can slightly drunk fish help scientists learn how to treat alcoholism in humans?

Can slightly drunk fish help scientists learn how to treat alcoholism in humans?

Robert Gerlai, a professor at the University of Toronto’s Mississauga campus, thinks they can.

Gerlai, who holds a PhD in biology, specializing in behavioural genetics, said little zebra fish grown from eggs in water laced with ethyl alcohol could even hold secrets to treating children with fetal alcohol syndrome.

“The ultimate goal is to understand how alcohol alters brain function in vertebrates (including humans), which will eventually lead to a better understanding of alcoholism, alcohol abuse, all kinds of problems and perhaps better treatment, eventually,” he said.

“Because once you understand the neurological and biological mechanisms of alcohol abuse, you can target particular molecular pathways and biochemical mechanisms and develop pills or other treatment solutions.”

It’s a roundabout way of saying that some fish show similar reactions to alcohol and may point to solutions in humans.

“So these fish grow well ... They reach adulthood and look absolutely fine. But when we give these fish behavioural tests, they become anti-social,” Gerlai said.

That is abnormal, because zebra fish are highly social and form groups much more tightly than other fish.

“(Alcohol) changed their social skills, which resemble what you find in mild fetal alcohol syndrome in humans.”

 
Consider AlsoFurther Articles