Methamphetamine: Meth is 'a perfect storm toxin,' researcher says

It's well-known that highly addictive methamphetamine wreaks havoc (for an illustration of the drug's ravages, just take a look at these before-and-after portraits from Portland, Ore.)

But faces, and brains, aren't the only parts of the body the drug affects, researchers at the University of Illinois in Champaign said Wednesday.  Studying meth exposure in fruit flies, the team showed that meth also alters chemical reactions in the body associated with generating energy, forming sperm cells and regulating hormones and muscles.

"We know that methamphetamine influences cellular processes associated with aging, it affects spermatogenesis, and it affects the heart," said University of Illinois entomologist (and study lead author) Barry Pittendrigh, in a statement. "One could almost call meth a perfect storm toxin because it does so much damage to so many different tissues in the body."

The research was published Wednesday in the journal PLoS One.

Scientists often study the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster to better understand the genetics and biology of other organisms, including humans.  

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