Researchers may have uncovered the genetic basis of drinking behaviour in humans with a new study that identified genes that are sensitive to alcohol in fruit flies.
Fruit flies are a useful model for investigating the contribution genes make to human alcohol sensitivity because, like humans, fruit flies can get 'drunk' if exposed to high levels of alcohol.
Similar to humans, intoxicated flies show movement problems, loss of postural control, and sleepiness. They also develop alcohol tolerance after repeated exposure to alcohol.
The research team from North Carolina State University identified a number of genes in the fruit fly that appear to be associated with alcohol sensitivity. Interestingly, 23 of these genes have human equivalents which the authors suggest could be linked to alcohol sensitivity in people.
"We can now translate these findings from Drosophila to the human population by asking whether any of the 23 human orthologs (genes) are indeed associated with alcohol sensitivity - either drinking behaviour or addiction - in the human population," says Professor Trudy Mackay. – (EurekAlert!)
Source: Genome Biology.
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