Genetic Risk for Cocaine Addiction Identified

People with a certain gene variant appear to be at higher risk of cocaine addiction, according to researchers from the Institute of Psychiatry.
Medical News Today reported March 13 that some people have a gene that stops the production of DAT, which regulates removal of extra dopamine in the brain. Cocaine works by limiting DAT, overloading the brain with dopamine.
People who have the DAT-limiting gene were found to be more likely to become addicted to cocaine; those with two copies of the gene were at even higher risk.
“This study is the first large-scale search for a genetic variant influencing the risk of developing cocaine addiction or dependence,” said lead researcher Gerome Breen. “The target we investigated, DAT, is the single most important in the development of cocaine dependence. It made sense that variation within the gene encoding DAT would influence cocaine dependence.”
Source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.March 2006

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