Assembling the jigsaw puzzle of drug addiction

Jan 05, 2008

Using an integrative meta-analysis approach, researchers from the Center for Bioinformatics at Peking University in Beijing have assembled the most comprehensive gene atlas underlying drug addiction and identified five molecular pathways common to four different addictive drugs. This novel paper appears in PLoS Computational Biology on January 4, 2008.

Drug addiction is a serious worldwide problem with strong genetic and environmental influences. So far different technologies have revealed a variety of genes and biological processes underlying addiction. However, individual technology can be biased and render only an incomplete picture. Studying individual or a small number of genes is like looking at pieces of a jigsaw puzzle - only when you gather most of the pieces from different places and arrange them together in an orderly fashion do interesting patterns emerge.

The team, led by Liping Wei, surveyed scientific literature published in the past 30 years and collected 2,343 items of evidence linking genes and chromosome regions to addiction based on single-gene strategies, microarray, proteomics, or genetic studies. They made this gene atlas freely available in the first online molecular database for addiction, named KARG (karg.cbi.pku.edu.cn), with extensive annotations and friendly web interface.

Assembling the pieces of evidence together, the authors identified 18 molecular pathways that are statistically enriched in the addiction-related genes. They then identified five pathways that are common to addiction to four different substances. These common pathways may underlie shared rewarding and response mechanisms and may be targets for effective treatments for a wide range of addictive disorders.


Source: Public Library of Science

Explore further: Update on gene editing of human embryos–and other organisms

Related Stories

New potential for "homemade" opiates raises oversight issues

May 19, 2015

Writing in the journal Nature Chemical Biology, researchers at the University of California at Berkeley have announced a new method that could make it easier to produce drugs such as morphine. The publication has focused ...

Cocaine-linked genes enhance behavioral effects of addiction

May 13, 2009

New research sheds light on how cocaine regulates gene expression in a crucial reward region of the brain to elicit long-lasting changes in behavior. The study, published by Cell Press in the May 14th issue of the journal ...

Study discovers a way to control internal clocks

Dec 23, 2014

Researchers hypothesize that targeting components of the mammalian clock with small molecules like REV-ERB drugs may lead to new treatments for sleep disorders and anxiety disorders. It also is possible that ...

Recommended for you

Project brings whole genome sequencing into the clinic

May 20, 2015

More than 10 years after the completion of the Human Genome Project doctors are a step closer to using whole genome sequencing to diagnose and treat patients with genetic diseases. This follows a study by ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.