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Rats offer clues to biology of alcoholism

Hundreds of genes involved in drinking preferences, study finds

2:15pm, August 4, 2016
rat in a wine glass

DRAWN TO DRINK  A study of rats that drink heavily reveals that hundreds of genes may be involved in alcoholism.

Alcoholism may stem from using genes incorrectly, a study of hard-drinking rats suggests.

Rats bred either to drink heavily or to shun alcohol have revealed 930 genes linked to a preference for drinking alcohol, researchers in Indiana report August 4 in PLOS Genetics.

Human genetic studies have not found most of the genetic variants that put people at risk for alcoholism, says Michael Miles, a neurogenomicist at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond. The new study takes a “significant and somewhat novel approach” to find the genetic differences that separate those who will become addicted to alcohol from those who drink in moderation.

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