Thursday, October 25, 2007

Genetic Therapies for Alcoholics

More TECHNOCORRECTIONS potential here. Ignore the meant-to-impress science jargon because the meat of the concept is in the other words.

While both environmental and genetic factors contribute to the risk of developing alcohol dependence, it is believed to be a largely heritable -- 52 to 64 percent -- disease. Previous research had found a significant association between risk for alcoholism and DNA sequence variations called single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) within the GABRA2 gene. New findings indicate that the GABRA2 genotype can modify overall drinking behavior, and may also have an impact on the success of certain types of alcohol psychotherapy.
"This was an important research step because one of the main goals of work on the human genome is that genetic information will someday be used to match individuals with the treatments that are most likely to work for them," said Kent Hutchison, a professor at the University of New Mexico and director of the Neurogenetics Core at the MIND Institute. "This is one step toward realizing that potential."
Collectively speaking, he added, these findings mean that certain genotypes may not only help to predict who might be at greatest risk of developing alcohol-related problems, but may also help to indicate which psychotherapies might have the best chance for success.

"It may be too soon to know exactly how these findings may be used in the clinic as there is much work to be done," said Hutchison. "But certainly, this is a first step in the right direction and at some point there is likely to be implications for how we match patients to specific treatments. The technology currently exists to genotype individuals on one million SNPs. At some point, we will have a panel of SNPs that can be used to match individuals with specific treatments."

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