Sunday, July 18, 2010

a cap on addiction

I’ve often said that I am lacking the “gene for addiction,” as I can, for instance smoke or drink without risking excessive use. New research suggests that, at least in rats, the “I’ve had enough” factor is not a protein gene but a micro-RNA, i.e. a short piece of RNA that plays a role in gene regulation. As J. A. Hollander et al. report in last week’s issue of Nature (vol 466, page 197), expression of the micro-RNA miR-212 puts a cap on cocaine-seeking behaviour in rats that have free access to the drug.

So, rather than terrorising and criminalising people who get addicted to drugs, policy-makers should fund more research to find the equivalent mechanisms in humans that protect those like myself from addiction and work out a way to provide this protection to those people who don’t have it naturally. Shouldn’t be so terribly complicated, and the research would be a lot cheaper than current spendings on the “war on drugs” and all that. If somebody wants to check my genes for this research, I’ll be happy to provide a sample.

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