Gene that makes people alcoholic discovered

Updated: Nov 24, 2011, 20:59 PM IST

London: Are you an alcoholic? Blame it on your gene.

According to a new study, some people are genetically predisposed to becoming alcoholics as scientists have found a gene which they suspect plays a major role in making a person problem drinker.

Researchers at the Texas Biomedical Research Institute in the US identified an "echo" of the serotonin receptor gene called HTR7 which was common the brains of alcoholics.

They also found that the children of problem drinkers had the same patterns of brain activity -- so are seemingly at the same risk of becoming alcoholics, a newspaper reported.

For their study, the researchers tested 1,064 people with generations of problem drinking in the family in the US. After identifying the "echo" of a brain wave, they found a strong link between drinking and the serotonin receptor gene HTR7.

Serotonin affects mood and sleep -- and antidepressant drugs often work by regulating it.

The researchers said it is likely that some people are more likely to become alcoholics because of their genetics.

However, they insisted that the picture is complicated -- and the gene identified might not be the final culprit.

Study author Laura Almasy said: "Some people are uncomfortable with the idea that there`s a genetic component to addiction. But we know that there are biological components to risk of addiction, some have to do with how you metabolise alcohol."

"Some of them have to do with differences in people`s brains that make them more or less susceptible to addiction.

"And we think this difference in brain wave patterns between people at risk and people not at risk is an echo of whatever that underlying biological difference is that makes some people more susceptible than others," Alamasy said.

The picture is `complicated` and targeting the serotonin receptor may not be the solution, she added.

The findings are published in the American Journal of Medical Genetics.