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Gene link to cannabis addiction

Wednesday April 24th, 2019

Genetics plays a role in individual risk of becoming addicted to cannabis, British researchers reported today.

Dr Chandni Hindocha of University College London, UK, and colleagues recruited 48 cannabis users. They were given cannabis in a vaporiser, then tested to see how attention-grabbing they found cannabis-related images versus neutral images - called drug salience - and to see if they continued to want more cannabis after having had some, as well as a test for craving.

Their DNA was also tested, for three genetic variants previously linked to cannabis addiction, all involved in the endocannabinoid system.

Findings appear today (24 April) in Addiction Biology. The team found links between all test results and the three genetic variants. A variant on the Cannabinoid receptor 1 gene was particularly linked to addictive tendencies on the tests. This gene contains a receptor which binds to the psychoactive component in cannabis, THC.

Dr Hindocha says: “We were interested in asking whether these genetic markers could predict addiction-related responses after inhaling doses of cannabis, such as how much our attention is drawn to cannabis-related pictures.”

Senior author Professor Val Curran added: “There’s still more work to be done to clarify how these genetic variants impact drug effects, and to identify what other factors should be considered to gauge how vulnerable someone is to cannabis addiction.

“With time, we hope that our results could pave the way towards more personalised approaches to medicinal cannabis prescription.”

Co-author Dr Tom Freeman commented: “Our findings have the potential to inform precision medicine targeting the rising clinical need for treatment of cannabis use disorders.”

Hindocha, C. et al. Acute effects of cannabinoids on addiction endophenotypes are moderated by genes encoding the CB1 receptor and FAAH enzyme. Addiction Biology 24 April 2019

Tags: Brain & Neurology | Drug & Alcohol Abuse | Genetics | UK News

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