American Society of Addiction Medicine (2011 newsletter)

Online Supplement to Volume 26, Number 3, 2011

Preliminary Evidence for Genetic Determinants of Response to Alcohol Pharmacotherapies

Kent E. Hutchison, Ph.D., Chief Science Officer, Mind Research Network, and Professor, Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, and Director of Population and Clinical Neuroscience — Intermountain Neuroimaging Consortium, University of Colorado — Boulder

Despite our best efforts over the last few decades, currently available treatments for addiction are, at best, modestly effective. Our lab has taken a two-pronged approach to address the limited effectiveness of current treatments. To develop more effective pharmacotherapies we have focused our attention on medications that target the basic neurobiological and behavioral mechanisms that are involved in the development and maintenance of addiction. To determine which individuals are most vulnerable to addiction and to determine which individuals might benefit most from a given treatment, we have focused our attention on genetic factors that might explain individual variation in the same basic neurobiological and behavioral mechanisms that influence the etiology of addiction…

To date, we have focused on acute responses to alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana, publishing papers on pharmacological and genetic factors that influence these phenotypes. While acute responses to cues or the drugs themselves are useful phenotypes, we are currently working to develop phenotypes that are even more proximal to the neurobiology of addiction. Working with the MIND Institute, we have taken our laboratory-based phenotypes to a neuroimaging environment and are integrating this approach with our recent efforts at identifying genetic variation that influences gene expression in post-mortem tissue samples taken from brain regions that are critical to the neurobiology of addiction…

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