Scientists Develop Drugs That Target Alcoholism Genes

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An example of a slide used for testing DNA. (AP)
An example of a slide used for testing DNA. (AP)

Researchers believe that alcoholism may have a genetic link. Sons of alcoholic fathers are nine times more likely to develop drinking problems than the general population, according to the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. And children of alcoholic parents are four times as likely.

Does alcoholism have a genetic link? To some, the idea sounds fatalistic, or like an excuse. But identifying specific genes connected to alcoholism could help in treating the addiction.

We speak with Dr. Bankole Johnson, chairman of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Sciences at the University of Virginia about new research underway to develop drugs that can treat alcoholics based on their DNA profiles.

This segment aired on March 1, 2011.


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