How genes decide recovery from alcoholism

Washington, Nov 5 (IANS): US researchers have identified genetic markers that may help in identifying individuals who could benefit from the alcoholism treatment drug Acamprosate.

Patients carrying these genetic variants have longer periods of abstinence during the first three months of Acamprosate treatment, showed the study.

When other environmental and physiological factors were considered, patients with the common allele (each of two or more alternative forms of a gene that arise by mutation and are found at the same place on a chromosome) located in the GRIN2B gene, stayed sober more days than those with a variant allele, found researchers.

Acamprosate is a commonly prescribed drug used to aid patients in recovery from alcoholism.

"This association finding is a first step towards development of a pharmacogenetic test allowing physicians to choose appropriate treatment for specific subgroups of alcohol-dependent patients," said Victor Karpyak, lead author and psychiatrist at the Mayo Clinic, Minnesota in the US.

They studied the link between variation in candidate genes and the length of sobriety in alcohol-dependent patients treated with Acamprosate in community-based programmes.

This finding was replicated in a sample of alcohol-dependent patients treated with Acamprosate in a study conducted by collaborators from Germany.

"We believe that individualized treatment selection will eliminate the need for trial-and-error approaches and improve treatment efficacy in patients with alcohol use disorders," Victor Karpyak added.

More studies are needed to determine potential importance of identified genetic variants in the longer-term effects of Acamprosate, as well as the molecular and physiological mechanisms behind the drug's action, concluded the researchers.

The findings appeared in the journal Translational Psychiatry.

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