We are Inches Away From Determining Genetic Traits Tied to Addiction to Drugs and Alcohol.

We are Inches Away From Determining Genetic Traits Tied to Addiction to Drugs and Alcohol.

According to scientists, the risk of addiction is a complex interaction of genetic and environmental factors. Despite breakthroughs in genetics science, it has been incredibly difficult to discover the genetic components of addiction, as it is likely caused by a combination of inherited mutations in several genes. To get answers on nicotine addiction, for example, scientists must investigate complex and subtle questions such as whether certain genetic variants contribute to smoking initiation while others contribute to behaviors associated with excessive smoking. 

Inherited variations can alter the way genes function, as with the well-known mutations that predispose children to cystic fibrosis or sober living women to breast cancer. The discovery of suspicious genes and their variations associated with addiction has been aided by the sharing of vast databases by scientists. This NIDA-funded study broke new ground by examining up to 1.2 million people’s recorded data, simultaneously examining numerous substance use habits, and then correlating them to possible genetic characteristics. 

A worldwide consortium of over 100 scientists compiled data on smoking and alcohol usage using records from a comprehensive database. They assessed behaviors such as when participants began smoking, how frequently or heavily they smoked, and if they had previously smoked and then quit. Additionally, they examined how many drinks each person consumed on a weekly basis. They next compared their findings to life events (such as years of schooling), bodily factors (such as heart rate or cholesterol level), and disorders they had (such as mental illness, Parkinson’s disease, or Type 2 Diabetes). They then correlated these findings with genes associated with various types of substance use. 

The researchers discovered that smoking or alcohol consumption is influenced by over 400 places in the genome and at least 566 variations within these areas. These include numerous loci containing genes involved in synaptic transmission, which may hold the key to understanding inherited characteristics associated with addiction. The findings indicate that smoking and alcohol use locations have an effect on three other chemical functions: glutamate transmission (the strength of synaptic connections); dopamine (related with learnt behavior and reward); and acetylcholine (the most plentiful nervous system transmitter.) These discoveries get scientists closer to discovering clusters of genes that may play a role in addiction, providing a solid foundation for future research in the field of addiction science. 

To obtain a copy of the research, which was published in Nature Genetics, please visit Association studies including up to 1.2 million individuals provide fresh light on the genetic etiology of tobacco and alcohol use. 

To learn more about addiction, smoking, and drinking, please visit the following websites: Addiction Science, Tobacco/Nicotine and E-Cigs, and Alcohol. 

For further information, contact the NIDA press office at [email protected] or 301-443-6245. 

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The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) is a federal agency that researches how drugs affect people. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is part of the National Institutes of Health of the United States Department of Health and Human Services. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) funds the majority of global research on the health implications of drug use and addiction. The Institute engages in a variety of activities with the goal of informing policy, enhancing practice, and advancing addiction science. For more information about NIDA and its initiatives, go to www.drugabuse.gov. 

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is a research agency supported by the federal government. There are 27 Institutes and Centers within the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which is part of the US Department of Health and Human Services. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is the government agency in charge of conducting and funding basic, clinical, and translational medical research, as well as investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information on the NIH and its programs, go to www.nih.gov. 

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National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2019, January 14). Scientists closer to finding inherited traits in addiction. National Institute on Drug Abuse. https://www.drugabuse.gov/news-events/news-releases/2019/01/scientists-closer-to-finding-inherited-traits-in-addiction