A new study identifies a gene that appears to be involved in regulating how much alcohol a person drinks. The findings could help scientists in their search for more effective treatments for alcoholism and binge drinking, Reuters reports.
The international study of more than 47,000 people found that people who have a rarer type of a gene called AUTS2 drink an average of 5 percent less alcohol than people with the more frequently found type of the gene. The AUTS2 gene also has been linked in previous research to autism and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). One of the researchers, Gunter Schumann of the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College London, told Reuters that combining genetic studies and behavioral data should help uncover the biological basis of why people drink. He said it is an important first step in developing individually targeted prevention and treatments for alcohol abuse and addiction.
The researchers analyzed the gene’s activity in brain tissue samples. Reuters reports that they found that people with the type of AUTS2 gene linked with less drinking had higher activity of the gene. The new study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.