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Proposed alcoholism gene gets doused.

Proposed alcoholism gene gets doused

A team of scientists recently created much hoopla with the announcement that one form of the dopamine-receptor gene convers susceptibility to alcoholism, at least in its most severe incarnation (SN: 4/21/90, p.246). But a new report casts considerable doubt on that claim.

Annabel M. Bolos of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism in Bethesda, Md., and her colleagues isolated DNA from 40 unrelated alcoholics, eight alcoholic and six nonalcoholic members of two families (each with one alcoholic parent) and 127 nonalcoholic controls. Two chemical probes sought out the specific dopamine receptor gene.

Slightly more than one-third of the alcoholics and just under one-third of the controls possessed the gene, a statistically insignificant difference, the researchers report in the Dec. 26, 1990 JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION. The gene showed no preference for alcoholics with the most severe drinking problems, longest histories of alcoholism, or violent and criminal streaks. And alcoholics in the two families displayed no excess inheritance of the gene.

Different methods of diagnosing alcoholism may contribute to the contrast between the two gene studies, Bolos and her co-workers suggest in their report. The fist study relied only on medical records, while the latest project involved face-to-face interviews with participants and their relatives.
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Title Annotation:dopamine-receptor
Publication:Science News
Date:Jan 12, 1991
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