A new study due to be published in September 2012 has found a significant association between alcohol dependence and geneticRelating to the genes, the basic units of genetic material. variation, giving more evidence to the theory of a geneThe basic unit of genetic material carried on chromosomes. for alcoholism. The study, as part of the Study of Addiction: Genetics and Environment (SAGE), interviewed almost 4000 people to find variations on two chromosomes which link to alcohol dependence.
Genetic variations such as these “…can be inherited or be a genetic mutationA change in the genetic material (DNA) of a cell, or the change this this causes in a characteristic of the individual, which is not caused by normal genetic processes. that neither parent possessed… in addition [they] have been reported to influence diseases such as autism and schizophreniaA psychiatric disorder featuring psychosis along with disordered speech, thinking and behaviour and often accompanied by hallucinations and withdrawal from ordinary social interactions.….” said lead author, Professor John P Rice of Washington University in the USA.
Whilst the two chromosome areas found to be associated with alcoholism only represent a modest risk, due to advances in genomic research and techniques, more genes are expected to be found whichinfluence alcoholism and there may be potential for screeningA way to identify people who may have a certain condition, among a group of people who may or may not seem to those at risk in future generations.
The researchers are now hoping that these chromosomes will be tested in more populations and that new lines of investigation into other alcohol-related genes will be pursued.