From a scientific standpoint, addiction is a disease. And, as researchers who study opioid addiction, we’re hopeful about where epigenetics, the science of how DNA code is regulated, can lead us.
Just as genetics can affect a person’s risk for heart disease, cancer or diabetes, it can also make them more or less susceptible to addiction.
A great deal of research in the last decade has focused on tiny differences in a person’s DNA – termed single-nucleotide polymorphisms, or SNPs. These SNPs can indicate whether you have a higher or lower rick for addiction. Continue reading
Researchers Elucidate Role of Stress Gene in Chronic Pain – from NIH – Posted on by Dr. Francis Collins
For most people, pain eventually fades away as an injury heals. But for others, the pain persists beyond the initial healing and becomes chronic, hanging on for weeks, months, or even years.
Now, we may have uncovered an answer to help explain why: subtle differences in a gene that controls how the body responds to stress.
In a recent study of more than 1,600 people injured in traffic accidents, researchers discovered that individuals with a certain variant in a stress-controlling gene, called FKBP5, were more likely to develop chronic pain than those with other variants. Continue reading
Can a genetic test predict risk of opioid addiction? – by Roger Chriss | Genetic Literacy Project | July 31, 2018
Genetic tests are still in their infancy and reveal only the broadest strokes of our individual makeup. Merely knowing which genes we carry is only the beginning of decoding our DNA. Each gene can also be “activated” or “deactivated” by our own bodies in response to the environment, internal or external.
Additionally, almost all traits are governed by a multitude of genes and how they interact; genetic codes are a little like recipes in that ingredients aren’t the only concern, but how they are combined and processed/cooked.
This makes general genetic tests extremely imprecise when they are looking to establish a cause and effect relationship between specific genes and specific traits, like a propensity toward becoming addicted. Continue reading
How Exercise Changes Fat and Muscle Cells – NYTimes.com – By Gretchen Reynolds – July 31, 2013
Exercise seems able to drastically alter how genes operate.
One powerful means of affecting gene activity involves a process called methylation, in which methyl groups, a cluster of carbon and hydrogen atoms, attach to the outside of a gene and make it easier or harder for that gene to receive and respond to messages from the body.
Exercise promotes health, reducing most people’s risks of developing diabetes and growing obese. But just how, at a cellular level, exercise performs this beneficial magic — what physiological steps are involved and in what order — remains mysterious to a surprising degree. Continue reading
Genetics may be a factor in the experience of chronic pain post surgery, according to a study published online in Anesthesiology.
Yuanyuan Tian, PhD, from the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and colleagues genotyped 638 polymorphisms within 54 pain-related genes in 1152 surgical patients who were enrolled in the Persistent Pain after Surgery Study.
Polymorphisms were validated in a matched cohort of 103 patients with chronic postsurgical pain and 103 pain-free patients. Continue reading
The field described as ‘epigenetics’ has captured the imagination of scientists and the lay public.
However, when describing these scientific advances as ‘epigenetic’, we encounter the problem that this term means different things to different people, starting within the scientific community and amplified in the popular press.
To help researchers understand some of the misconceptions in the field and to communicate the science accurately to each other and the lay audience, here we review the basis for many of the assumptions made about what are currently referred to as epigenetic processes. Continue reading
The past few decades have seen intensive efforts to find the genetic roots of neurological disorders, from schizophrenia to autism. But the genes singled out so far have provided only sketchy clues.
There are several other places to look for the missing burden of risk, and one surprising possible source has recently emerged—an idea that overturns a fundamental tenet of biology and has many researchers excited about a completely new avenue of inquiry. Continue reading
Genetic Testing for Opioid Pain Management: A Primer – April 2017 – free full-text article /PMC5447546/
An increased use of prescription medications (especially opioids) has led to an increase in adverse drug reactions and has heightened our awareness of the variability in response to medications.
Pharmacogenetics has improved our understanding of drug efficacy and response, opened doors to individual tailoring of medical management, and created a series of ethical and economic considerations.
Since it is a relatively new field, genetic testing has not been fully integrated into the primary care setting. Continue reading
Polymorphic Cytochrome P450 Enzymes (CYPs) and Their Role in Personalized Therapy – December 10, 2013 – free full-text article
The cytochrome P450 (CYP) enzymes are major players in drug metabolism. More than 2,000 mutations have been described, and certain single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) have been shown to have a large impact on CYP activity.
Therefore, CYPs play an important role in inter-individual drug response and their genetic variability should be factored into personalized medicine.
We have personalized medicine for everything but pain, in which case rigid standards are set by politicians and enforced by the DEA. Continue reading
One form of a common genetic variant may ratchet up pain sensitivity in people who have it, researchers report online March 8 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
In the new study, researchers led by clinical geneticist Geoffrey Woods of the Cambridge Institute for Medical Research in the United Kingdom examined the DNA of 578 people with the painful condition osteoarthritis.
Woods and his colleagues searched for genetic variations that might be linked to how much pain a patient reported feeling — a subjective measure, Woods says, but currently the best researchers can do. Continue reading