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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Gene Involved In Regulating Alcohol Consumption


The disease of addiction is a complex disease with a number of variables to consider when treating. Scientists and doctors have struggled over the years to better identify what takes place in the body when addiction is present. Modern medicine, such as brain scans and decoded DNA, has allowed experts to understand better than ever what is behind addiction underneath the surface. A new study has identified a gene appearing to be involved in regulating how much alcohol a person drinks, understanding this gene may help scientists determine more effective treatments for alcoholism and binge drinking, according to a report from Reuters. It could easily be argued that the success rates seen with today's treatment practices can be attributed to modern medicine.

47,000 people were analyzed in the new study whereby they found that people who have a rare type of a gene called AUTS2 drink an average of 5 percent less alcohol than people with the more commonly found type of the gene. This is not the first time AUTS2 gene has been worked with, it has also been linked in previous research to autism and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Gunter Schumann of the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College London, worked on the study and told Reuters that combining genetic studies and behavioral data should help uncover the biological basis of why people drink. This is an important first step in developing individually targeted prevention and treatments for alcohol abuse and addiction, according to Schumann.

The researchers analyzed the gene’s activity in brain tissue samples. Researchers found that people with the type of AUTS2 gene linked with less drinking had higher activity of the gene, reports Reuters. Breakthroughs like this are a step in the right direction for designing individual treatment plans that will be the most effective for patients.

The new study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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