Exploring Epigenetic Changes in a Worm Model of Addiction


Kaeli Knudsen

Principal Investigator

Dr. Carlos Carvalho


University of Saskatchewan

Grant Type




About the researcher

Kaeli Knudsen

Undergraduate Student at the University of Saskatchewan

The impact

Epigenetics is a new field that explores the interaction between genes and their environment. Many mind and body neuroCAM interventions could work through epigenetic changes, so an understanding of epigenetics in disorders, like addiction is critical. By better understanding the gene and environment interaction, scientists may be able to better understand mind and body modalities and improve them.

The study

This project examined the impact of exposing a worm (C. Elegans for the bio nerds reading this) to alcohol, which is well known to be addictive and induce depressive symptoms, on their non-exposed offspring. The findings uncovered a striking pattern: the next two generations of offspring exhibited a tendency towards alcohol compared to their non-exposed worm friends. Intriguingly, this hereditary influence predominantly originated from the father worms, with minimal influence from the mothers. These remarkable results lay the groundwork for understanding how the relationship between alcohol and epigenetics could work in humans.

What's next?

These researchers are currently conducting further research to identify specific genes associated with alcohol addiction. Discovering these genes would help us to identify individuals who are at higher risk of developing addictive behaviors and provide them with proactive support instead of the current approach of waiting for addiction to become problematic before providing treatment. 

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