The Brain can be Re-Written to Remove the Risk of Anxiety and Alcohol Abuse in Adulthood
CRISPR-d Cas9 saves the day again as the suggested method of altering the Arc gene to decrease chances of anxiety and alcohol disorders in adulthood
The brain has been the central focus of a lot of studies as of late. A new study has focused on the part of the brain responsible for the development of both alcohol abuse and anxiety. The study also demonstrates how gene editing can wipe those disorders out.
Carried out by scientists at the University of Illinois builds out on previous work which dives into how binge drinking reshapes the brain chemistry we all experience. In the formative years of the brain, binge drinking leads to a decrease in genes in the amygdala which is a key hub for regulating emotions.
The scientist found that the long-lasting effects of manipulating the Arc gene is increased chances of anxiety and alcohol disorders in adulthood. We have mentioned CRISPR before for climate change, but this time it is being suggested as a fix to anxiety and alcoholism, specifically CRISPR-d Cas9.
During the phase of experimentation, rats were subjected to intermittent alcohol exposure during the time of adolescence which is in the same range of ages 10-18 for humans. When the rats reached adulthood, using CRISPR-d Cas9 to normalize expression of the Arc gene, scientists found that it decreased indicators of anxiety and a preference for alcohol consumption.
Behavioral testing was used to measure these conclusions. Maze experiments were used to gauge the anxiety levels of the rats and experiments provided them with choices of different liquids containing fluctuating concentrations of alcohol.
Reverse experimentation showed that using CRISPR-d Cas9 to decrease expression of the Arc gene had the opposite effect, boosting indicators of anxiety and a preference for alcohol consumption.
“Early binge drinking can have long-lasting and significant effects on the brain and the results of this study offer evidence that gene editing is a potential antidote to these effects, offering a kind of factory reset for the brain if you will,”
Subhash Pandey, the lead author, said.
“Adolescent binge drinking is a serious public health issue, and this study not only helps us better understand what happens in developing brains when they are exposed to high concentrations of alcohol but more importantly gives us hope that one day we will have effective treatments for the complex and multifaceted diseases of anxiety and alcohol use disorder. That this effect was seen bidirectionally validates the significance of the Arc enhancer gene in the amygdala in epigenetic reprogramming from adolescent binge drinking.”
The study emphasizes the importance of adolescence. Specifically, the brain development that occurs in this stage of life and how binge drinking during any moment throughout can cause the development of alcohol or anxiety disorders later on.
Also, something to keep in mind, alcohol disorders are the leading causes of preventable deaths…
The research was published in the journal Science.