Researchers Find Gene Network Linked To Alcohol Dependence
A new report published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry claims to have identified a network of genes that work together to determine alcohol dependence in individuals. The researchers believe the findings could potentially lead to more effective treatments and therapies for alcoholics, as well as hopefully improving screening for alcoholism.
The team compared patterns of genetic code from brain tissue of alcoholics and nonalcoholics and found that a specific set of genes co-expressed together in the individuals who consumed a higher amount of alcohol. Specifically, certain sets of genes were strongly linked as networks in alcoholics, but not in nonalcoholics.
“This provides the most comprehensive picture to date of the gene sets that drive alcohol dependence,” said R. Adron Harris, director of The University of Texas at Austin’s Waggoner Center for Alcohol and Addiction Research. “We now have a much clearer picture of where specific traits related to alcohol dependence overlap with specific expressions in genetic code.”
Researchers have long known that genetics play some role in alcoholism and addiction and that the tendency for dependence to be genetically linked is more complicated than the presence or absence of any one gene. However, these findings mark the first time researchers have been able to identify the specific group of different genes that are highly correlated with alcohol dependence.
“We hope our model can serve as a type of Wikipedia of alcohol dependence, helping to break down the complexities of alcohol dependence and becoming a reference for future research into drug therapies,” said Sean Farris, a postdoctoral fellow also at the Waggoner Center and lead author of the study.