An insightful new report by researchers at the Boston University School of Medicine and published in PLOS Genetics may shed light on the widely suspected link between methamphetamine (crystal meth) addiction and genetic characteristics of drug users. This link extends beyond crystal meth addiction to include other common ‘neuropsychiatric disorders’.
The report claims to have identified a specific gene that’s more pronounced in users who have developed a deadly addiction to crystal meth.
The gene in question is known as heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoprotein H1 (Hnrnph1). This gene is related to the behavioural stimulant response generated by crystal meth use.
Researchers used modern fine mapping and genome editing techniques to identify the particular chromosome of Hnrnph1 that reacts to crystal meth use.
Researchers discovered a variety of Hnrnph1 codes for an RNA-protein. This protein affects a number of other genes contained within the human brain. However, researchers are currently unaware of the precise genetic targets of Hnrnph1.
The research brings scientists one step closer towards developing much-needed effective drugs that could be utilised in treating crystal meth addiction.
Unlike heroin or alcohol addiction, there currently exists no FDA-approved drug for treating crystal meth addiction.
This research could also lead to drugs that could combat mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, ADHD and bipolar disorder, as well as physical disorders such as Huntington’s and Parkinson’s disease.