A study backed by the National Institutes of Health and recently published in Nature Mental Health has identified genes commonly inherited across substance use disorders, which could lead to more effective addiction prevention and treatment.
The study, which examined the genomic data of over one million people (one of the largest datasets of its kind) was led by researchers at Washington University in St. Louis and included the work of more than 150 coauthors from across the globe.
Below are some key features and findings from this study:
- Researchers used a genome-wide association method to gather data.
- The study’s sample included 92,630 individuals of African ancestry and 1,025,550 individuals of European ancestry.
- Researchers sought to detect genetic variations associated with general addiction as well as specific substances (nicotine, alcohol, opioids and cannabis).
- Findings indicated that the regulation of dopamine-related genes, rather than variation in the genes themselves, is central to addiction risk.
- The study revealed a genomic pattern shared between substance use and psychiatric conditions, highlighting the importance of treating these disorders concurrently.
According to National Institute on Drug Abuse Director, Nora Volkow, M.D., “Genetics play a key role in determining health throughout our lives, but they are not destiny. Our hope with genomic studies is to further illuminate factors that may protect or predispose a person to substance use disorders – knowledge that can be used to expand preventative services and empower individuals to make informed decisions about drug use.”
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