Ironically for a drug made famous by a rogue chemistry teacher, biologists have made a step forward in tracking down the gene variations that make a person more or less susceptible to becoming addicted to methamphetamine. More commonly known on the street as crystal meth (seen here under a polarised light microscope), the drug can be fiercely addictive. Previous research has suggested that the chances of becoming hooked run in families so are likely, at least partly, linked to particular gene variations. By carefully mapping the DNA of different mice, some of which show more addiction-like behaviour in response to methamphetamine than others, scientists have pinned the blame on a gene called Hnrnph1, also found in humans. This isn’t the sole factor responsible for a crystal meth habit – environment and other genes also play a role – but it helps to reveal the genes and molecules that underpin addiction.
Written by Kat Arney
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