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Research Identifies Gene Variant That Could Protect Against Alcoholism

Posted in Research

Scientists for years have studied the human brain and body to better understand why some individuals are more prone to alcoholism while others are not. A Science Daily release examined the work of researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine who have discovered a gene variant that could offer protection against alcoholism.

The variant is known as CYP2E1, this gene is associated with an individual’s response to alcohol. This variant is known to exist in 10 to 20 percent of the population. For individuals with the gene, the first few drinks consumed can leave them feeling as if they are more inebriated than those without the variant.

In previous studies, researchers have found that individuals who react strongly to alcohol are less likely to become alcoholics later in life. Even as the research proved this to be true, researchers still were not clear on the genetic basis of this finding. With the discovery of the role CYP2E1 plays in the response to alcohol, the affect alcohol has on the brain is becoming more clear.

Even with the discovery of this gene that in essence – protects against alcoholism; the disease is still very complex. There are a number of reasons why a person will drink and this gene variant and the individual’s perception of alcohol may only point to one possible approach to alcoholism.

This research does open up opportunities to use CYP2E1 induction to make people more sensitive to alcohol to try and prevent or treat alcoholism. The possibilities are still broad and additional research is needed.