Zebrafish willingly dose themselves with Opioids
A new study finds that the number of Americans being diagnosed with opioid addiction continues to skyrocket, but still very few receive treatment. This is in line with the rising trend documented in previous reports.
Diagnosis' of opioid use disorder has increased 493% from 2010 to 2016 according to a study by Blue Cross Blue Shield.
Zebrafish appear to be as keen to opioids as humans and they are willingly to dose themselves more than 200 times a day. In an attempt to discover new treatments for opioid use disorders, scientists are studying the addictive qualities and behaviors of these test fish.
This study at Utah University trained the fish to swim over a yellow platform to trigger the release of some food. When this happened a green light was also set off. They then replaced the food with hydrocodone and discovered through a number of tests that the zebrafish were very keen on the opioid painkiller.
Fish are animals who form friendships and have emotions They swam over the platform when it released the drug much more often that when it produced food. When the dose was reduced, they increased the number of visits to compensate. Normally zebrafish will avoid water that is too shallow, but when the drug was on offer they disregarded their normal caution when the researchers reduced the level in the tank. The fish also showed signs of anxiety - a sign of withdrawal in humans - when they had gone 48 hours without a hit.
After reading countless studies on zebrafish and humans alike, the common denominator is the growing epidemic of opioid use disorder.
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