Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin have uncovered a network of genes that seem to work together to influence alcoholic behavior. “We now have a much clearer picture of where specific traits related to alcohol dependence overlap with specific expressions in genetic code,” said Dr. R. Adron Harris, director of the UT’s Waggoner Center for Alcohol and Addiction Research and co-author of the study.
The UT study found that this network of genes existed in people who exhibited traits of alcohol-use disorder (AUD), and did not exist in people who did not fit AUD diagnostic criteria. In many cases, the gene network was expressed more profoundly in people whose drinking was more severe and chronic. While some of the genes in the network were known to scientists, others had yet to be studied in relation to alcohol dependence.
Scientists working with genes and AUD hope to pinpoint the genetic markers that could lead to better diagnostic screening and future treatment protocols, possibly even identifying those at risk for alcohol dependence before symptoms manifest.