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USF/VA researchers identify gene that increases risk for drug abuse

er several different experimental conditions in which they could normally be trained to drink.

The Tampa group of geneticists, psychiatrists, and psychologists thus added mu-opioid gene patterns to the list of other genes they were investigating. In comparing gene patterns between alcoholics and normal volunteers, they found that alcoholics had an abundance of a particular form of the mu-opioid gene, the "AA" form, compared to non-alcoholics. However, since many alcoholics included in the 1999 study were also abusers of other substances, the researchers could not conclude that this particular gene configuration conferred increased risk specific to alcoholism or to drug abuse in general.

"The 1999 study suggested that mu-opioid was a part of the drug abuse story, but did not allow us to ask more specific questions about relationships to other drugs or the genes impact in other groups such as smokers or social drinkers," Dr. Schinka said. "In the current study, we looked at several groups, including a group of normal volunteers who had never been smokers or drinkers and a group of alcoholics who also used other drugs."

The new research showed that the "AA" configuration occurred even in individuals with no history of smoking or drinking. However, the frequency of the configuration increased in groups with any use of alcohol or cigarettes and occurred in almost 90% of individuals treated for abuse of several drugs.


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Contact: Anne DeLotto Baier
abaier@hsc.usf.edu
813-974-3300
University of South Florida Health
14-Mar-2002


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