Gene Tied to Increased Susceptibility to Opioid Addiction

Specific gene affects patients with African ancestry
Specific gene affects patients with African ancestry

HealthDay News — A genetic variant associated with opioid addiction may lead to personalized treatment for the condition, according to research published online January 24 in Molecular Psychiatry.

Specifically, the variant was found in black Americans affecting the gene OPRM1, which is responsible for the way opioids affect the brain. Researchers at Yale University said this may identify which blacks might require higher doses of methadone. 

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The researchers also said they've found that the same gene variant can predict the morphine dose required for effective pain control for black children undergoing surgery.

"We found specific gene effects in people with African ancestry, an understudied population," senior author Joel Gelernter, MD, a professor of psychiatry, genetics and neuroscience at Yale, said in a university news release. The researchers didn't find these gene effects in people of European ancestry who had methadone treatment.

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