It has long been suspected that alcohol addiction runs in families but new research has identified the DNA network that makes certain people more vulnerable to alcohol than others. The discovery has even led scientists to warn that whether we fall victim to alcoholism really could be determined by our genes.
The researchers who carried out the study at Texas University in the USA compared the brain tissue of alcoholics with that of non-alcoholics. It was here that they discovered a specific set of genes responsible for alcohol dependency as this DNA was only found in those suffering from alcoholism.
This is the first time that scientists have used the new DNA sequencing technique, bioinformatics to identify the specific group of different genes that when expressed together are highly linked with alcohol dependence. Dr Sean Farris from Texas University commented:
“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.”
These thoughts were further echoed by another doctor at the University, Dr Adron Harris who 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.”
Scientists have said that being able to identify genetic factors and networks in the brains of alcoholics will give drug researchers more information to work from. It is thought that one day it could even allow for better screenings to evaluate a person’s risk factors for alcohol dependence -possibly even before the onset of heavy drinking.
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