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   Dec 05

Alcoholism IS genetic: Scientists identify key DNA which makes some people more vulnerable to the addiction

Scientists have discovered a DNA network causing alcohol dependence

Alcoholics have a particular set of genes that may be inherited

Study could lead to treatments for alcoholism and doctors screening for it

Whether you will fall victim to alcoholism really is determined by your genes, scientists warn.

It has long been suspected that the addiction runs in families but new research has now identified the DNA network that makes certain people more vulnerable to alcohol than others.

Comparing the brain tissue of alcoholics with that of non-alcoholics, a team of scientists from Texas University have discovered a specific set of genes responsible for the dependency, they claim.

The key set of DNA was only found in those suffering alcoholism.

Scientists have discovered a DNA network which makes some people more vulnerable to alcohol than others, suggesting alcoholism may be inherited

Dr Adron Harris, of Texas University, said: ‘This provides the most comprehensive picture to date of the gene sets that drive alcohol dependence.

‘We now have a much clearer picture of where specific traits related to alcohol dependence overlap with specific expressions in genetic code.’

The study could lead to new treatments for alcoholics and possibly help doctors screen for alcoholism.

It’s the first time scientists have used a new DNA sequencing technique called bioinformatics to identify the specific group of different genes that when expressed together are highly linked with alcohol dependence.

Dr Sean Farris, also of Texas University said: ‘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.’

Only three drugs have approval from the US Food and Drug Administration to treat alcoholism – but none has been proven to cure the addiction.

Scientists discovered a set of genes in the brain tissues of alcoholics that were not expressed in non-alcoholics’ brains. They said they now have more information than ever on the gene causing alcoholism

In the UK, a drug called namalfene is available to around 600,000 adults in England deemed to be mild alcoholics.

Alcohol is also known to increase the risk of many cancers and it also raises the blood pressure which can cause stroke and heart disease.

Severe alcohol abuse can lead to liver damage, cirrhosis and death.

Scientists said identifying genetic factors and networks in the brains of alcoholics will give drug researchers more information to work from.

It could one day allow for better screenings to evaluate a person’s risk factors for alcohol dependence – possibly even before the onset of heavy drinking.

The study was published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.

Source: Daily Mail

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