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Ant Addicts

December 9, 2013

Ants may become a hot commodity in drug addiction studies.



Ant addicts. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Morphine-addicted ants serve as a useful model for human addiction.  This according to University of Scranton biologists Mark Seid, Brian Entler, and their colleagues. Recently, the Scranton team found that the ant addicts share a critical trait with humans, as well as popular lab animals like mice and rats.

BRIAN ENTLER (University of Scranton):

Just like mammals, they will seek a drug of abuse – in this case morphine – without the presence of sucrose or a known natural reward.

Many other creatures never end up seeking the drug in its pure form. Entler says that ants have other advantages for research. For example, entire colonies are virtually identical genetically, which makes it easier to compare the effects of the different experiments. They’re also highly social, and may provide a new way to study how addicted individuals affect a larger group. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.