Gene Variants Predict Treatment Success for Alcoholism Medication
In this study, researchers showed that alcohol dependent individual who possess those gene variants have a much better treatment response to the experimental medication ondansetron. Researchers conclude that the findings promulgate the clinical approach of identifying alcohol dependent individuals who are likely to respond to ondansetron based on their serotonin transporter genotype analysis.
Akinso: The effectiveness of an experimental treatment for alcoholism depends on the genetic make up of people who receive it.
Litten: This was a state of the art design, studying the effects of a drug called ondansetron.
Akinso: Dr. Raye Litten is a health scientist administrator at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
Litten: To be able to indentify patients who respond say to a medication and perhaps even identify those who may have an adverse reaction will enable clinicians to administer the drug in a more efficient, effective and safer manner.
Akinso: Ondansetron is currently used to treat nausea and vomiting, often following chemotherapy. It works by blocking receptors for the brain chemical, serotonin. This NIAAA study extends the researchers' previous work on the role the brain's serotonin system plays in alcohol misuse. Changes in the serotonin levels in the brain can alter moods, including the rewarding effects of alcohol. Specifically serotonin transporter variants designated as LL, S and TT have been associated with more severe drinking problems.
Litten: These are a site that occurs in the serotonin transporter gene; actually a functional polymorphic region where you actually can get functional changes.
Akinso: Researchers performed genetic analyses to determine which serotonin transporter gene variants, a protein that regulates the concentration of the serotonin between nerve cells, were carried by each subject, then randomly assigned each subject to treatment regimens with ondansetron or placebo.
Litten: Those who had the LL genotype says versus those who had the short version had fewer drinks per drinking day and more days abstinent in the presence of ondansetron than those who even took ondansetron and had the short version or the S version.
Akinso: Researchers have shown that variations in the gene that encodes the serotonin transporter can significantly influence drinking intensity according to Dr. Litten.
Litten: They also did better than those who took the placebo. Interestingly when you add the second site to that those who had the TT version along with the LL version even had a better outcome. It was like it was an interaction. In fact it appears that the effects by having both the LL and TT you can almost double your effect size with that combination.
Akinso: Dr. Litten says by being able to do genetic screening beforehand clinicians can eliminate a great deal of trial and error approach to prescribing medicine. He adds that this kind of personalized medicine allows clinicians to better predict a successful treatment option. For more information, visit www.niaaa.nih.gov. This is Wally Akinso at the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland.
About This Audio Report
Reporter: Wally Akinso
Sound Bite: Dr. Raye Litten
Topic: vascular disease
Additional Info: Gene variants predict treatment success for alcoholism medication