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The Lede: The gene that makes people likely to be addicted to opioids

The Lede, Monday, Feb. 26, 2018
By David Royse

Good Afternoon,

LEDE

Why are some people addicted to opioids, while others take them and then quit?

Scientists have known for some time that some degree of susceptibility to addiction is genetic.

They now may have a good idea of what genetic variant causes opioid addiction.

Whole and Crushed Pills, Needle, Spoon, Opioid AbuseYale University reported this past week that a genome-wide analysis of more than 5,000 opioid users showed a particular gene variant associated with dependence on opioid drugs in European-Americans. An earlier study identified a different group of gene variants associated with opioid addiction in African-Americans.

For European-Americans, the problem gene is called RGMA, a gene involved in cell death and nerve damage, Yale researchers reported last week in the journal Biological Psychiatry.

RGMA has also been linked to damage caused by stroke, Alzheimer’s Disease, and Parkinson’s Disease. Researchers found that a variant RGMA allele was found more frequently in opioid-addicted people than in others.

“We hope that a better understanding of the biological influences on opioid use will lead to novel treatments — biological knowledge can lead to treatments, and these are needed rather desperately for opioid dependence” senior author Dr. Joel Gelernter, Yale’s Foundations Fund Professor of Psychiatry, professor of genetics and of neuroscience, and senior author of the new study, said in a report on Yale’s website.

The cause of addiction likely isn’t entirely genetic – but those with the variant gene are more susceptible to environmental factors that cause dependence, researchers said.

“Genes responsible for opioid dependence have been difficult to identify, as the disorder stems from a complex combination of genetic alterations and environmental influences, such as drug availability,” Dr. John Krystal, chair of Yale’s Department of Psychiatry and editor of Biological Psychiatry, said in the Yale release.

You can read the study in Biological Psychiatry here

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Other news worth noting:

HACKING SCHOOL SAFETY: Companies are making school safety products – and parents are buying. LedeTree

LITHIUM GLUT? New lithium mines came online to meet global demand from electric vehicle makers, but now there’s too much. Some are predicting a price crash. Investors.com

NOTES FROM THE AGE OF DISRUPTION:

Uber
Softbank backs Uber plan for 2019 IPO. CNBC

Microsoft
The Supreme Court tomorrow will hear arguments on whether U.S. officials can force Microsoft to hand over emails, which are stored in a data center in Ireland, that law enforcement is seeking as part of a drug investigation. Politico

Media Disrupted:

Gothamist, LAist and DCist Are Back

Late last week, two anonymous donors ponied up money for public radio stations in New York, Los Angeles and Washington to revive the popular local news sites Gothamist, LAist and DCist, which had been shut down when their owner abruptly shuttered them. The three stations acquired not just the names and domains, but the story archives and social media assets. WNYC in New York, KPCC in Southern California and WAMU in DC are the stations. Gothamist and DNAInfo websites were shut down in November by CEO Joe Ricketts, a move that some staffers said was related to efforts to unionize. Ricketts said it was purely economic. Reports of the sale over the weekend made no mention of the company’s fourth site, DNAInfo Chicago.

Other Disruptive Media News

CBS
Launches Streaming Sports Network. TechCrunch

Netflix
Has its eyes on India – and 100 million subscribers. RapidTVNews

REPORTING EARNINGS THIS WEEK: Salesforce and Palo Alto Networks

CANNABIS NEWS

ASSUMPTIONS DEBUNKED? This study sheds doubt on idea that legal medical marijuana increases teen recreational use. Also on idea that it may help reduce opioid deaths. LedeTree

ROAD WARRIORS, NEWS FOR COMMUTERS

MASSIVE EXPANSION COMING AT O’HARE – DOZENS OF NEW GATES

Do you already cringe when you learn you have to connect through O’Hare and think about how far it is from one gate to the other. There are more gates coming, in an almost 3 million square foot expansion. Crain’s

HYPERLOOP LOOKING AT DETROIT

Hyperloop Transportation Technologies has expressed interest in connecting Detroit to its proposed Great Lakes network, which could also include Chicago and Cleveland. Crain’s Detroit

DC ISSUES PERMIT FOR MUSK’S HYPERLOOP CO

Meanwhile, the other hyperloop company, Elon Musk’s Boring Co., has gotten a permit for preliminary work in Washington, D.C., that could lead to the building of a hyperloop station there. Construction Dive

TRANSIT AND COMMUTING NEWS

Research Starting to Show Ride-Hailing Apps Actually Can Increase Congestion. KPCC

Nissan to launch autonomous taxi service in Japan. Smart Cities Dive

Meanwhile, a Chinese company is offering rides in autonomous cars – in a small area – in Guangzhou TechCrunch

LIVING OUR BEST LIFE

From the New York Times: How to enjoy Las Vegas on a budget

Have a great week, and check back with www.ledetree.com for news throughout the week

About David Royse

David Royse
David Royse is the Editor-in-Chief of Ledetree.com. He has been a professional journalist for more than 20 years, including stints with The Associated Press and The News Service of Florida. He enjoys writing about health and medical science, and hopeful stories about scientific breakthroughs and new technology.

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