Could propensity for drug addiction be linked to an ancient virus in some people’s genes?

maxresdefault
Image credit: David Shawn Hamilton Cook

Drug addicts are more likely to carry an ancient virus which could affect the production of dopamine than the rest of the population, a study has found.

Scientists studied a type of ancient retrovirus called HERV-K HML-2 (HK2). A retrovirus is a form of bug which transcribes its RNA into the DNA of a host cell to multiply. Retroviruses can either spread exogenously between individuals, like HIV, or endogenously from parents to offspring, but they were not previously believed to be harmful in humans.

[T]his type of HK2 can manipulate neighboring genes, including one which plays a role in how dopamine is released in the brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter connected to rewarding experiences, and is therefore implicated in addiction.

Related article:  Walking upright emerged long before modern humans

“We show the strongest evidence provided to date that an endogenous retrovirus is linked to harmful effects in humans, by showing a link between an integrated retrovirus and addictive behavior,” [says researcher Aris Katzourakis.]

To conduct their study, the researchers in Greece recruited 202 HIV positive participants, and found RASGRF2 was 2.5 times more common in patients who were infected via intravenous drugs than those who were infected by other means. And in a separate part of the study conducted in the U.K., 184 hepatitis C patients were 3.6 times more likely to have RASGRF2 in their genes if they had suffered chronic drug abuse.

Read full, original post: Drug addicts more likely to have ancient virus in their genome

Outbreak
Outbreak Daily Digest
Biotech Facts & Fallacies
Talking Biotech
Genetics Unzipped
Video: Test everyone – Slovakia goes its own way to control COVID

Video: Test everyone – Slovakia goes its own way to control COVID

As Europe sees record coronavirus cases and deaths, Slovakia is testing its entire adult population. WSJ's Drew Hinshaw explains how ...
mag insects image superjumbo v

Disaster interrupted: Which farming system better preserves insect populations: Organic or conventional?

A three-year run of fragmentary Armageddon-like studies had primed the journalism pumps and settled the media framing about the future ...
dead bee desolate city

Are we facing an ‘Insect Apocalypse’ caused by ‘intensive, industrial’ farming and agricultural chemicals? The media say yes; Science says ‘no’

The media call it the “Insect Apocalypse”. In the past three years, the phrase has become an accepted truth of ...
globalmethanebudget globalcarbonproject cropped x

Infographic: Cows cause climate change? Agriculture scientist says ‘belching bovines’ get too much blame

A recent interview by Caroline Stocks, a UK journalist who writes about food, agriculture and the environment, of air quality ...
organic hillside sweet corn x

Organic v conventional using GMOs: Which is the more sustainable farming?

Many consumers spend more for organic food to avoid genetically modified products in part because they believe that “industrial agriculture” ...
benjamin franklin x

Are most GMO safety studies funded by industry?

The assertion that biotech companies do the research and the government just signs off on it is false ...
favicon

Environmental Working Group: EWG challenges safety of GMOs, food pesticide residues

Known by some as the "Environmental Worrying Group," EWG lobbies for tighter GMO legislation and famously puts out annual "dirty dozen" list of fruits and ...
m hansen

Michael Hansen: Architect of Consumers Union ongoing anti-GMO campaign

Michael K. Hansen (born 1956) is thought by critics to be the prime mover behind the ongoing campaign against agricultural biotechnology at Consumer Reports. He is an ...
News on human & agricultural genetics and biotechnology delivered to your inbox.
Optional. Mail on special occasions.
Send this to a friend