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August 19, 2004

Genetics of Alcoholism

John B Whitfield writing in the August issue of Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research and working with data from three studies conducted between 1980 and 1995 on volunteer adult male and female Australian twin subjects conclude that reported alcohol consumption was mainly affected by genetic factors and that genes that affect alcohol intake do affect alcohol dependence, but genetic effects unique to dependence are also significant; environmental effects are largely unique to either intake and dependence. Here is the abstract.

Nothing really earth shattering, but the genetic impulse towards addiction that is separate from the genes that code for alcohol consumption and addiction does open up some new avenues for research. Is there an addiction gene that predisposes one to addictive behavior?

The search for the actual gene sequences is being conducted by Dr. Howard J. Edenberg:

There are 7 human alcohol dehydrogenase genes that evolved from a common precursor, but now differ in the tissues in which they are expressed. We are now mapping cis-acting elements in the distal 5' regions of these genes, and examined their effects in transient transfection assays. We are looking for tissue-specific elements that regulate these genes, and the transcription factors that control them.
Posted by TangoMan at 08:32 PM