Research suggests traumatic childhood experiences embed themselves in our brains and put us at risk of mental illness, but epigenetic editing may offer us hope of removing them.
A new rodent study shows that even small quantities of alcohol can trigger epigenomic and transciptomic changes in brain circuitry in an area that is crucial in the development of addiction. What’s more, the University of Illinois Chicago researchers who conducted the study say that the pathways involved in priming the brain for addiction are the same ones that are associated with the highs of drinking, like euphoria and anxiolysis, the clinical term for a level of sedation in which a person is relaxed but awake.
Gene editing could one day help reverse anxiety and excessive drinking caused by adolescent exposure to alcohol, according to a new study in rats supported by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). A team of investigators led by NIAAA grantee Subhash C. Pandey, Ph.D., the Joseph A.
More than 15 million people worldwide struggle with alcohol use disorder, a chronic relapsing condition that can have severe consequences on a person’s physical, emotional, and mental wellbeing. Despite its prevalence, few effective medications to treat alcohol addiction exist, and the risk of relapse after seeking treatment can be up to 90 percent within four years.
Exposure to alcohol during adolescence can leave a person vulnerable to a lifetime of psychiatric challenges, such as anxiety problems and alcohol-use disorder. Epigenetic modifications arise after adolescent alcohol use, which block the expression of proteins associated with higher-order cognitive and emotional processes during adulthood. CRISPR gene editing can reverse the disruptive epigenetic modification, and alleviate anxiety and alcoholism.
“Early binge drinking can have long-lasting and significant effects on the brain and the results of this study offer evidence that gene editing is a potential antidote to these effects, offering a kind of factory reset for the brain, if you will,” said study senior author Subhash Pandey, the Joseph A. Flaherty Endowed Professor of Psychiatry and director of the Center for Alcohol Research in Epigenetics at UIC. The study is issued by researchers from the University of Illinois Chicago who have been studying the effects of early life binge drinking on health later in life.