Human-Relevant Plant Model for Testing Anesthetic Drugs

The Physicians Committee

Human-Relevant Plant Model for Testing Anesthetic Drugs

December 19, 2017

venus fly trap

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A Venus flytrap plant will normally close on its prey by detecting touch, but this movement can be blocked using anesthetic drugs that have been found to be effective in humans.

Study in a Sentence: Researchers recently demonstrated that various plants exhibiting touch-induced movements (e.g., mimosa leaves, pea tendrils, Venus flytraps, and sundew traps) may serve as experimental models for testing anesthetic drugs for humans. Various anesthetic drugs impaired movements in these plants by blocking similar molecular processes and electrical signals as those observed in humans.

Healthy for Humans: These plants can be used to identify new anesthetic drug candidates for humans. They can also be used to study how anesthetic drugs work at the molecular level to determine ways to optimize the therapeutic potential or minimize the harmful side effects of the drugs. Currently this is often done with animals.

Redefining Research: This new experimental model for anesthetic drug testing can be more cost-effective and accessible, easier to control, less time-consuming, and more ethical to use than animals.

Yokawa K, Kagenishi T, Pavlovic A, et al. Anaesthetics stop diverse plant organ movements, affect endocytic vesicle recycling and ROS homeostasis, and block action potentials in Venus flytraps. Ann Bot. doi: 10.1093/aob/mcx155. Published online December 11, 2017.

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