Common genes could explain alcohol, nicotine, cocaine addictions

March 16th, 2009 - 3:00 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, March 16 (IANS) Researchers may be honing in on specific genes tied to all types of addictions and finding that some of the same genes associated with alcohol dependence are also closely linked with addictions to nicotine, cocaine, opoids, heroin and other substances.
Addiction experts at the Universities of Virginia (UV) and Michigan have presented new insights into the significant progress made within the last several years in understanding the genetics of addiction.

“Addiction researchers have found that several genes are linked with multiple addictions,” said co-author Ming Li, professor of psychiatry and neuro-behavioural sciences at the UV School of Medicine.

“So, we’re narrowing the scope to specific genetic targets. Once researchers can pinpoint exact genetic variants and molecular mechanisms, then we can create much more effective, even personalised, treatments for individuals addicted to a variety of substances,” he added.

Li and co-author Margit Burmeister, professor of psychiatry and human genetics at the University of Michigan, summarised specific genomic locations on 11 chromosomes where addictions to alcohol, cannabis, cocaine, heroin, nicotine and opoids are clustered together, said an UV release.

These findings are slated for publication in the April issue of Nature Reviews Genetics.

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