Gene therapies for alcoholism, depression?

martini graphic

Researchers have discovered a pair of genetic mechanisms that could hold the keys to gene therapies for alcoholism and depression.

Scientists at the University of North Carolina, led by Dr. Kirk Wilhelmsen, reported in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research the discovery of a gene that influences individuals’ responses to alcohol. The variant causes a high sensitivity to alcohol in its carriers. Research has shown that others have a much lower sensitivity to the effects of alcohol, which carries a higher risk for alcoholism (people who get tipsy more easily are, conversely, less likely to develop alcoholism).

The gene encodes an enzyme for alcohol metabolization in the brain, rather than the liver as with other alcohol metabolization enzymes. The gene could be useful in determining the likelihood of developing alcoholism.

"Alcoholism is a very complex disease and there are lots of complicated reasons why people drink," Wilhelmsen cautioned in prepared remarks. "This may be just one of the reasons."

In another study, researchers led by Dr. Michael Kaplitt of the Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City discovered that low levels of a protein could help cause depression. The researchers, who included Nobel Prize-winning brain cell researcher Paul Greengard of New York’s Rockefeller University, looked to cure mice bred for depressive symptoms by installing a gene carrying the protein into reward center of the brain. The study, in the journal Science Translational Medicine, showed that the gene-treated mice lost their listlessness and behaved like regular mice.

depressed people display a deficit of the protein. Combined with an existing technique for gene therapy, the results suggest a new way to treat depression, as well as a new target for drugs, Kaplitt concludes.

"No single thing probably causes any human disease," Kaplitt told USA Today. "But we can say there is evidence here of a role of this protein in depression."

Although the study is likely to have a "major impact," neuroscientist Eric Stone of the New York University School of Medicine was skeptical.

“A very elegant and exciting study, it’s going to have a major impact — but I would question any result pointing toward a simple cause for depression,” Stone told the newspaper, adding that drugs are a safer treatment than gene therapy or shunts. Both Greengard and Kaplitt have financial ties to biomedical companies involved in commercializing treatments involving the protein, according to USA Today.

RSS From Medical Design & Outsourcing

  • MSC Apex Diamond Python and Smart Midsurface speeds modeling to validation
    MSC Software announced a new release of MSC Apex, the company’s award-winning next generation Computer Aided Engineering (CAE) platform. The MSC Apex Diamond Python release introduces: · The fourth release of MSC Apex Modeler is a CAE Specific direct modeling and meshing solution that streamlines CAD clean-up, simplification and meshing workflow. New in this release is […]
  • Quality Metrics: FDA’s plan for a key set of measurements to help ensure manufacturers are producing quality medications
    Editor’s Note: This article is written by Ashley Boam and Mary Malarkey from the “FDA Voice” blog. Boam is an FDA’s acting Director of the Office of Policy for Pharmaceutical Quality, the Office of Pharmaceutical Quality and the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. Malarkey is an FDA’s Director if the Office of Compliance and Biologics Quality […]
  • MasterControl’s CEO talks EQMS software and new partnerships
    MasterControl offers a quality and compliance software that helps device companies speed time to market and improve their bottom lines. Under Jon’s leadership, the company has blossomed into a market leader and has a unique corporate culture that fosters growth, excellence and quality. In this podcast, MasterControl’s CEO, Jon Beckstrand, will discuss electronic quality management […]
  • BIT Group launches white label IVD solutions
    BIT Group has launched a product line of customizable IVD white label instruments. During recent years, BIT has invested capital and resources developing customizable, ready-to-use IVD systems to address a growing demand. “The IVD market is challenging for our clients,” said Marius Balger, CEO at BIT. “OEM’s must adhere to a growing number of evolving IVD […]
  • Toshiba expands line-up of ARM Cortex-M-based microcontrollers
    Toshiba announced that it has enhanced its current “TX Family” of ARM core-based microcontrollers and started to develop three series of microcontrollers, “TXZ0 series,” “TXZ3 series” and “TXZ4 series,” as part of the “TXZTM Family.” The TXZTM Family is a new collection of flash microcontrollers that support low-power consumption and high-speed operation for IoT and M2M […]
  • Parker Hannifin consolidates, layoffs ahead
    Parker Hannifin plans to consolidate a number of internal divisions, close 2 facilities and expand its Mexican operations, according to an internally distributed letter from Andy Ross, Parker’s engineered materials group president. The company has confirmed the letter was authentic, but has not disclosed how many employees will be affected by the new plans or […]
  • 3-phase current transducer from PEM delivers all-in-one convenience
    The new RCTrms 3-ph current transducer from Power Electronic Measurements (PEM) delivers a convenient, safe and accurate solution for measuring current in three phases. It features a thin, clip-around, flexible sensor coil and provides accurate true rms measurement with 4-20 mA or 0-5 V output, enabling simple installation with PLC’s, SCADA systems or automation equipment. […]
  • Safety alert: Recall on two IV solutions from Baxter
    Baxter International announced it is voluntarily recalling two lots of intravenous (IV) solutions to the hospital and user level due to the potential presence of particulate matter. The particulate matter in each case was determined to be an insect and was identified as a result of a customer complaint. The matter was identified prior to […]
  • TSO3 begins shipment of STERIZONE VP4 Sterilizers to U.S.
    TSO3, a developer in sterilization technology for medical devices in healthcare settings, announced that the company has received purchase orders for multiple devices from the U.S. The orders are the result of the collaborative relationship between Getinge Infection Control, its sales and service provider, and TSO3. “Finally,” said R.M. Rumble, president and CEO of TSO3. “Our Vision is […]
  • Turkish medical company is seeking reseller and OEM partners in the U.S.
    UZUMCU Medical Equipment, one of Turkey’s first and largest manufacturers of medical devices, is seeking reseller and OEM partners in the U.S. The company has an array of FDA-certified OR tables, surgical lights, surgical suction units, electro devices and other medical equipment. “We want to bring our experience with distributors throughout Europe and the Middle […]
  • QImaging introduces new CCD cameras for microscopy with modern software to streamline image capture
    QImaging, a manufacturer of scientific cameras for life science and OEM applications, introduces a new series of Retiga CCD cameras, accompanied by QImaging’s new acquisition software to deliver high-performance tools for microscopy and imaging to researchers at an affordable price. The new QImaging Retiga R1, Retiga R3 and Retiga R6 cameras offer valuable technical features […]

Leave a Reply