A molecular link between the human brain and the nervous system of the great pond snail offers an important clue to help explain how anesthetics work. According to Nick Franks and colleagues at Imperial College London, have discovered a specific amino acid in neuronal potassium channels that when mutated inhibits the activity of anesthetics. Researchers have known of the importance of potassium channels in anesthesia for twenty years. Until the snail arrived, however, there has been no way to test the hypothesis directly. The next step will be to determine whether the same mutation in mice also makes them insusceptible to anesthesia. The work could ultimately lead to more effective anesthetics with fewer side effects than current compounds.
Pond snail anesthetic