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Alcoholism Genetics

A genetic propensity may be responsible for some alcohol dependence, according to new research which links alcoholism to a cluster of genes on chromosome 11. "Previous studies have looked at one or a few genes at a time, choosing the genes based upon hypotheses about possible mechanisms underlying differences in risk for alcoholism," Howard J. Edenberg, Distinguished Professor at the Indiana University School of Medicine and corresponding author for the study, told Science Daily. "We chose to examine the entire genome, all the genes at once, as an unbiased approach that has the potential of uncovering previously unsuspected genes." "Geneticists use many strategies to find gene locations, and genes," said David Goldman, section chief of Human Neurogenetics at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. "Here, approximately one million genetic polymorphisms or variants were analyzed in a population framework of approximately 1400 unrelated individuals. Then the most significant variants were followed up in several ways: 'Were they also associated in families?' 'Were they expressed in brain?' 'Were their patterns of expression altered by alcohol?' Several were. [These results] illustrate the power of new genetic technology to perform a genome-wide sieving, something that was impossible only a few years ago."
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