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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Genetic Markers for Alcoholism Recovery

Withdrawing from any addictive substance is extremely difficult and often requires the aid of medications. Opioid addicts, seeking recovery, are usually given drugs like buprenorphine to aid with arduous withdrawal periods. Alcoholics, on the other hand, are often given the drug Acamprosate, which has shown to be effective in a number of cases.

Researchers have found genetic markers that may help in identifying individuals who could benefit from the alcoholism treatment drug Acamprosate, reports Science Daily. When observing patients taking acamprosate, those carrying certain genetic variants have longer periods of abstinence during the first three months of treatment.

Acamprosate, or Campral, is a drug used for treating alcohol and benzodiazepine dependence. The drug is thought to stabilize the chemical balance in the brain that is often disrupted by alcohol withdrawal or benzodiazepine withdrawal. The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry indicates that Acamprosate works best with recovering alcoholics when used in conjunction with support groups.

Mayo Clinic researchers and collaborators in Germany studied the association between the genetic variant rs2058878 located in the GRIN2B gene, and the length of sobriety when alcohol-dependent patients were treated with Acamprosate. The findings, at the Mayo Clinic and in Germany, showed that the genetic variant could be associated with increased abstinence when taking Acamprosate.

"This association finding is a first step towards development of a pharmacogenetic test allowing physicians to choose appropriate treatment for specific subgroups of alcohol-dependent patients," says Victor Karpyak, M.D., Ph.D., Mayo Clinic psychiatrist and lead author of the article. "We believe that individualized treatment selection will eliminate the need for trial-and-error approaches and improve treatment efficacy in patients with alcohol use disorders."

The findings were published in the journal Translational Psychiatry.

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