Study Uncovers Clues to What Makes Anesthetics Work
Investigators at the Seattle Children's Research Institute published a study in the Dec. 20, 2011, issue of Current Biology that illustrates how anesthetics work in the roundworm C. elegans, which is often used for research purposes. The team inserted a protein found in the human retina, called a retinal-dependent rhodopsin channel, into the roundworm's cells. Shining a blue light on the roundworm activated channels that caused a instant reversal of anesthetics. The scientists noted that while the results will not allow for an immediate discovery that would work for humans, they intend to replicate the experiment in other animal models, beginning with mice. Lead study author Phil Morgan, MD, noted, "We believe that there is a class of potassium channels in humans that are crucial in this process of how anesthetics work and that they are perhaps the ones that are sensitive to potential anesthesia reversal. There are drugs for blocking these channels and with these same drugs, maybe we can eventually reverse anesthesia."
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