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Network of genes plays role in alcohol abuse

Network of genes plays role in alcohol abuse

Researchers of the Waggoner Center, part of the University of Texas, discovered a gene network that is possibly linked to alcohol dependence. In the future, patients can be screened for expression of these genes to determine the risk of developing alcoholism and personalise treatment. Results of this research have recently been published in Molecular Psychiatry.

For a longer period of time, the scientific world has been convinced of the influence of genetic factors on alcoholism. Also, it is known that alcohol dependence and addiction is not related to a single gene. Moreover, so far only a few therapies exist for alcoholism. These are just auxiliary methods – none of them is entirely sufficient in ending alcohol dependence or addiction.

Using RNA sequencing, Texan researchers compared the genetic expression patterns in brain tissue of alcoholics to the patterns that were found in tissue of subjects without alcoholism. In the first group, the authors discovered a collection of genes that were linked as networks.

This study is the first of its kind to use a new bioinformatics technique to identify gene expression in a specific group. Using this technique, a whole network of genes could be identified that is related to alcohol dependence. “We hope our model can serve as a type of genetic encyclopaedia to simplify research on alcohol abuse, and become a reference for research to new treatments”, says Sean Farris, postdoctoral fellow at the Waggoner Center and lead author of the paper.

The identification of genetic factors in the alcoholic’s brain gives drug researchers more information for therapeutic leads. Eventually, this may lead to better screenings to evaluate risk factors for alcohol dependence, so that alcohol abuse may be prevented.

Source: Molecular Psychiatry

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