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Can Targeted Epigenetic Changes Prevent Addiction?

There is growing evidence that alcohol and drug use can cause lasting genetic changes that may reinforce substance addiction that could also be passed down to future generations. Epigenetics focuses on how environmental factors can cause immediate genetic changes. DNA methylation is one epigenetic mechanism that is affected by external factors including environmental stress, chemical exposure, and disease. Various substance abuse and disorders have been linked with behavioral changes that are associated with increased DNA methylation.

Stem Cells
In a recent study, heavy or binge drinking triggered genetic changes resulting in greater cravings for alcohol. Heavy drinking can change at least two genes, period 2 (PER2) and proopiomeclanocortin (POMC), both of which reinforce the craving for alcohol. PER2 influences the body's biological clock while POMC regulates the responses to stress. Blood samples were taken from test groups and it was determined determined that heavy drinking increased the methylation of PER2 and POMC, thereby reducing expression and in turn, led to more cravings for alcohol. This could offer hope for preventing or treating alcohol addiction in the future. Methylation alterations in a number of genes caused by drugs have also been identified. Future studies are needed to see if drug addiction has similar biomarkers for potential therapeutic targets.
For more information: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/acer.13932

Enzo Life Sciences provides a range of products for all your Epigenetics research needs. Our platform provides a wide range of assay kits, small molecules, antibodies, and proteins. Our high quality chemiluminescent, fluorescent, and colorimetric assays deliver more high quality hits, and are backed by a broad panel of characterized inhibitors and PTM-specific antibodies for ubiquitinylation, sumoylation, methylation, acetylation, and phosphorylation.

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