FEARFUL WORMS COULD HELP HUMANS WITH ANXIETY


– [Announcer] This is a typical
example of chronic anxiety, sometimes called the
Old Sergeant Syndrome. – Today, we are making a
scientific study of the mind and we are finding some
very encouraging things. – One in five humans have some kind of anxiety
related condition. This number is pretty amazing. In 2013, for which we have
the last known record, 170 million prescriptions are
given for anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medication. Despite all these large
numbers of prescriptions, we do not have effective
therapies that we could prescribe to somebody suffering from anxiety or somebody suffering
from a panic condition. So, we’re looking for better
ways or better systems where one could make
these kind of discoveries, find better drugs that are going to be able to treat human conditions. C. elegans is a nematode. It lives in the soil and it eats bacteria. Nematodes have been really
critical for discovering multiple pathways that have relevance to humans. So, the big picture summary
is that we demonstrate that C. elegans has a rudimentary form of fear-like response and
pathways that are known to modulate fear in mammals also work in the same manner in the worm. Drugs that alleviate
anxiety conditions in humans also seem to alleviate the
anxiety condition in the worm. – So, in this experiment,
we were really interested in seeing if we could study
these fear predator related behaviors in a really simple
organism like C. elegans. So, we took also a very simple predator called Pristionchus pacificus. Chemicals that are secreted
by this predator seem to drive this fear avoidance kind
of behavior in C. elegans. We use Zoloft to treat the
C. elegans. and we found that treating the worms with
Zoloft reduced their responses to the predator in both
their immediate behavior and also their long term effects. The specific neurons that we
found the effect of Zoloft in C. elegans. are also
neurons that control things like sleep in worms
and we also know that Sertraline Zoloft can also have
effects on sleep in humans. – So given that C. elegans
also has the same kind of response and given that
Zoloft seems to alleviate the C. elegans condition,
it would suggest that perhaps the nematode, the simpler
nematode could be used in discovering new drugs that would also be effective
against human conditions. This is one of the first examples of that where you are trying
to take a simple system to study a very complex problem that has so far eluded a good model.

1 thought on “FEARFUL WORMS COULD HELP HUMANS WITH ANXIETY”

  1. every drug has been run through a morris maze. we know the brain of this worm so well their is no way that this is not a most important breakthrough in neuropharmacology. if we induce depression in the worm we can elicit behavior that then we can reverse with zoloft. is that next. wow.

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