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Genetics

A Genetic Nexus of Obesity and Smoking

Research shows that some gene variants that influence body mass index also shape smoking behaviors.

Gene Variants Reduce Opioid Risks

Two recent studies suggest that genotyping may enable clinicians to base therapies on individual patients’ potential responsiveness to opioid drugs’ therapeutic effects and vulnerability to their harmful effects.

Dr. Joni Rutter Q&A: How Basic Science Is Tackling Addiction

One of NIDA’s goals is to try to understand the individual differences that contribute to whether or not someone who takes a drug will become addicted to it. Dr. Rutter’s research focuses on three types of differences: Environmental, developmental, and genetic and epigenetic.

Study Finds Genetic Influence on African Americans’ Smoking

A meta-analysis of 13 genome-wide association studies of African Americans’ smoking patterns confirms the significance of genetic variation in region 15q25.1. The analysis also tentatively implicates several genome locations that have not previously been associated with smoking behaviors.

Male Rats’ Cocaine Exposure Affects Their Offspring’s Drug Responses

In a surprising finding, male rats who used cocaine sired male offspring who later exhibited blunted responses to the drug. Researchers determined the cause was an epigenetic alteration.

Stress Receptor Mediates Lifelong Consequences of Early Trauma

NIDA-supported research suggests that glucocorticoid receptor levels during early brain development affect the hard wiring of neural circuits that shape an individual’s basic emotional makeup. In mice, overexpression of the glucocorticoid gene in the first weeks after birth increased anxiety and response to cocaine in adulthood. These findings may help researchers understand the genetic background and the developmental trajectory of addiction.

PhenX Toolkit Provides Standard Measures for Research

NIDA researchers working with human subjects now have a new resource at their fingertips: the PhenX Toolkit’s new Substance Abuse and Addiction (SAA) Collection. The Toolkit is designed to provide standardized measures, vetted and approved by the field, to help researchers compare and combine data from multiple studies.

Dr. David Jentsch Receives the 2011 Waletzky Memorial Award

Dr. J. David Jentsch is the recipient of the 2011 Jacob P. Waletzky Memorial Award for Innovative Research in Drug Addiction and Alcoholism. Dr. Jentsch and colleagues at the University of California, Los Angeles, are studying genetic and neurochemical factors that influence individual differences in inhibitory control.

Individual Differences in Decisionmaking Style May Predict Teen Problems

Reports on the relative influence of genes versus environment on adolescents’ choices that involve delayed gratification.

Resting Brain Studies Shed New Light on Vulnerabilities

Individuals with weak signaling in a nicotine-sensitive brain circuit were more vulnerable to nicotine dependence than those with stronger signaling, according to a study conducted while the subjects’ brains were in a resting state. A second resting-state study finds that the same circuit appears to mediate dependence associated with a genetic risk factor for smoking.

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