Genetics of Alcohol Addiction

Coordinator:    Prof. Dr. Rainer Spanagel
Institution: Zentralinstitut für Seelische Gesundheit / Mannheim
Alcoholism may be regarded as being the most prevalent neuropsychiatric disease afflicting our society today and, further, having a high genetic load. This disorder can best be defined as a pathological behavioural syndrome, characterised by compulsive drug seeking (craving) with repeated relapses into drug use, events which may recur even after many years of abstinence, in spite of obviously disastrous consequences for the individual concerned, including fatality. As a matter of fact, in an estimate of factors responsible for the global burden of disease, it was shown that alcohol constitutes 3.2% of all worldwide deaths in the year 2006. The overall theme of the present application focuses on the genetics of alcohol addiction with the aim of identifying and validating candidate genes and molecular networks involved in the aetiology of this pathology. Furthermore, our consortium provides a unique systems biology/medicine approach; i.e., from genes to therapy and with a maximal net product for one of the most important diseases, namely, alcoholism. The continuation of NGFN funding in the “Genetics of Alcohol Addiction” will ultimately help in consolidating, in this research area, excellent research clusters in Germany (in Mannheim, Bonn, Berlin, and Munich). Together with other funding sources German alcohol and drug abuse research would be in an excellent position regarding an up-coming European discussion on the choice of site for a “European Institute on Alcohol and Alcoholism/Drug Abuse”, similar to the NIAAA and NIDA in the US.

Latest results can be found in detail in the descriptions of the subprojects.

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