It doesn't matter whether it's cocaine, alcohol, nicotine, or opiates - drug addictions may be explained in part by about 400 genes. Scientists predict that genetic factors may account for up to 60% of an individual's drug addiction, while environmental factors account for the other 40%.
Over the past 30 years, different studies have identified a total of 1,500 addiction-related genes. Recently, scientists from China have searched through more than 1,000 medical publications that linked genes to drug addiction. By finding certain molecular pathways that lead to addiction, the scientists were able to narrow down the 1,500 genes to just 396 genes.
Determining the importance of these genes that seem to make some people more easily addicted to drugs opens the way for more effective therapies and addiction control. Knowing these few genes and pathways could help scientists design treatments for a wide range of addictions.
The study is published in a recent issue of PLOS Computational Biology.