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Scientists find depression/alcoholism gene

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ST. LOUIS, Sep 03, 2004 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- A group of psychiatric geneticists in St. Louis have identified a gene that appears to be linked to both alcoholism and depression.

The work of the Washington University researchers, summarized in the September issue of the journal Human Molecular Genetics, is the first to identify a specific gene associated with both depression and alcoholism.

The Washington University team analyzed DNA from 2,310 people from 262 families in which at least three members were alcoholics. The researchers found one region on chromosome 7 looked remarkably similar in most alcoholics. They then examined DNA from depressed participants, independent of alcohol usage and found that the same distinguishing region on chromosome 7 also looked similar in most depressed individuals. In addition, participants with both depression and alcoholism were the most likely to have these similarities on chromosome 7.

Having identified the general region of interest on chromosome 7, the team Identified gene CHRM2, a gene related to a type of cellular receptor involved in many important brain functions, including attention, learning, memory and cognition.

Copyright 2004 by United Press International.


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