Research in the journal Genetics identifies a major metabolic switch that plays a key role in the induction of alcohol tolerance in fruit flies and shows direct translation to humans
A group of drunken fruit flies have helped researchers from North Carolina State and Boston universities identify entire networks of genes-also present in humans-that play a key role in alcohol drinking behavior. This discovery, published in the October 2009 print issue of the journal GENETICS, provides a crucial explanation of why some people seem to tolerate alcohol better than others, as well as a potential target for drugs aimed at preventing or eliminating alcoholism. In addition, this discovery sheds new light on many of the negative side effects of drinking, such as liver damage.
"Translational studies, like this one, in which discoveries from model organisms can be applied to insights in human biology, can make us understand the balance between nature and nurture, why we behave the way we do, for better or worse, and what makes us tick," said Robert Anholt, a Professor of Biology and Genetics at North Carolina State University, Director of the W. M. Keck Center for Behavioral Biology, and one of the senior scientists involved in the work.