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Scientist finds link between a certain gene and cannabis abuse

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The increased risk of cannabis abuse could be linked to a specific gene according to a new study conducted in the context of the iPSYCH project, Denmark. The genetic variant discovered by researchers is the source of a particular nicotine receptor present in the brain. Those with low amounts of this receptor have an increased risk of abusing cannabis.

Ditte Demontis, a researcher at the University of Aarhus, is one of the authors of the study with whom she discovered that the disorder linked to low levels of the nicotine receptor in the brain was linked to a particular gene.

The data used belongs to a Danish national database characterized by the presence of complete genomes of over 2000 people dependent on cannabis and another 50,000 control subjects. Further analysis was then carried out with another database relating to 5,500 cannabis employees and 300,000 control subjects. The researcher identified a significant association between the CHRNA2 gene and cannabis abuse disorder.

Analyzing the data, they found that people who had a greater number of genetic variants associated with altered cognition were also characterized by a greater risk of cannabis abuse, as Demontis herself explains: “People who abuse cannabis often do worse for regarding the educational system, and our results show that this can be partly explained by genetics. This means that people with an abuse problem have more genetic variations in the genome that increase the risk of cannabis abuse, while at the same time negatively affecting their ability to get an education.”

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