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Proposed alcoholism gene fails again.

Last year, researchers reported that a specific dopamine-receptor gene apparently predisposes its bearers to alcoholism. Although two-thirds of the alcoholics in that study carried the gene, an independent team of scientists subsequently found the same gene in only about one-third of both alcoholics and nonalcoholics (SN: 1/12/91, p.29). Now, a third study casts further doubt on the alleged alcoholism gene.

Joel Gelernter of the Veterans Administration Medical Center in West Haven, Conn., and his colleagues isolated DNA from 44 alcoholics and 68 healthy individuals. A chemical probe revealed, once again, that about one-third of each group possessed the dopamine-receptor gene. Moreover, the analysis showed no surplus of the gene in alcoholics with family histories of alcoholism or in alcoholics with histories of violent and criminal behavior.

Before launching the alcoholism study, Gelernter's team had looked in vain for an excess of the same dopamine-receptor gene among people with either schizophrenia or Tourette's syndrome -- disorders that may involve irregularities in dopamine transmission. Dopamine normally functions as an important chemical messenger in the brain.
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Title Annotation:dopamine-receptor gene doesn't predispose people to alcoholism
Author:Bower, Bruce
Publication:Science News
Date:Jun 1, 1991
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