Addiction researchers are seemingly closer to discovering momentous highlights regarding substance abuse and its genetic aspect with the publication of a landmark paper entitled “New insights into the genetics of addiction”. The paper is authored by Ming Li Ph.D. of the University of Virginia Health System and Margit Burmeister Ph.D. of the University of Michigan.
As the title implies, the paper gives new insights regarding the genetic aspect of addiction. The study provides material on the subject of finding genes that are common to all kinds of drug addiction and associated to alcohol dependence.
Previous addiction-related research studies have already shown that there are several genes common in different kinds of addiction. Ming Li, Ph.D., one of the study’s author, explained that their study narrows down the scope to certain, specific genes. “Once researchers can pinpoint exact genetic variants and molecular mechanisms, then we can create much more effective, even personalized, treatments for individuals addicted to a variety of substances,” she noted.
The paper presents a summation of genome locations on 11 chromosomes where alcohol dependence and addiction to cocaine, heroin, marijuana, nicotine and opioid are closely clustered together. It also serves a guide and comprehensive map to the existing body of literature on addiction genetic research.
“The comparison of peaks for addictions to multiple substances on certain chromosomal locations confirms that genetic vulnerability to different substances overlaps, in part,” explained Li. He also noted that variations in certain genes, such as neurexins 1 and 3, ANKK1, and aldehyde dehyrodgenases, have been previously associated with multiple types of drug addiction.
In their conclusion, Li and Burmeister proposed possible direction for future research studies on the genetic aspect of addiction. The researches suggested focus on the genes
CHRNA3, CHRNA5 and CHRNB4 clusters. “The exact nature of the gene variants and how they function are still unknown, so functional studies as well as studies using additional ethnic population samples may be quite revealing,” they ended.
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