Previous studies with regards to drug addiction have led scientists to identify several of its environmental and genetic factors causes. To date, researchers have managed to map out most of the biological and genes process that underlie addiction. Still, these processes make use only of individual technologies that do not render a complete picture of drug addiction. These snippets may be likened to pieces of a big jigsaw puzzle which would only make sense when put together to form the larger picture. Several years have passed since interest in drug research first flourish, but it was only until recent that a group of researchers were able to put together the pieces of the drug addiction jigsaw to come up with the most comprehensive genetic representation of addiction at present.
Scientists from the Center for Bioinformatics of the Peking University in Beijing made use of an integrative meta-analysis approach to come up with a comprehensive atlas of the genes processes underlying drug addiction. In addition, these scientists were also able to indentify five molecular pathways that are common to four different types of addictive drugs.
To come up with the atlas, head researcher Liping Wei and his team conducted an extensive survey of literature on drug research that were published in the last 30 years. The group also collected and assembled 2,370 pieces of evidence that links chromosome regions and genes to addiction. These evidences were mostly based on proteomics, single-gene strategies, microarray, and genetic studies.
Through the assembled evidences, the authors were able to identify 18 statistically enriched molecular pathways in the addiction-related genes. Five of these pathways were common among four types of addiction involving four different drugs. According to the researchers, these five pathways may trigger shared response and rewarding mechanisms. The authors further suggested that the said pathways be made the targets of addiction recovery treatments.
The group’s research was published in the PLoS Computational Biology while the atlas is available with friendly web interface and extensive annotations at the KARG, which is the first ever online molecular addiction database.
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