Narrator: This is Science Today. A simple fruit fly experiment has major implications in the field of alcohol and drug abuse. Ulrike Heberlain, a researcher at the University of California, San Francisco, got flies drunk after removing a gene which normally regulates a molecular pathway called cyclic AMP. This pathway has long been associated with alcoholism in humans.
Heberlain: If we take these mutant flies that are more sensitive to alcohol and we feed them a series of compounds that are known to increase cyclic AMP production, we were able to reverse the sensitivity.
Narrator: This doesn't mean humans will react the same way, but Heberlain says it's a start in the right direction.
Heberlain: What we plan to do in the near future is begin collaborations with researchers who work with mice and human geneticists and to look at whether any of these genes that we identify in flies are involved in alcohol behaviors in mice and whether they are in any way associated with alcoholism in humans.
Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.