Researchers Working to Predict Addiction
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, roughly half a person’s risk for becoming addicted to drugs is hereditary, but what if it could be predicted using blood type, brain scans and some mathematical equation?
Researchers at the Coriell Institute for Medical Research in Camden are working with clinicians at Cooper University Hospital and Rowan University to create an algorithm to predict opioid addiction. They’re one year into a three-year study that aims to better understand the genetic factors that lead to opioid-use disorder and opioid overdose.
This new study has three different components, the first being a biobank of brain and blood samples from people who died of opioid overdoses. This is being used to research regions of the brain known to be associated with addiction as well as neural pathways and DNA. Alongside the medical component there are two different clinical studies. Each study examines either people in treatment for opioid-use disorder, or people who have been prescribed opioids for chronic pain, but who do meet the criteria of opioid-use disorder.
In addition to genetic and epigenetic statistics, the researchers are also looking at environmental risk factors associated with developing opioid-use disorder, such as a history with substance use and trauma.
This research could help people better understand their risk for developing addictions, and work as a preventive measure in the fight against the opioid epidemic. The opioid epidemic claimed over 70,000 lives in 2017 alone, knowing your risk and taking precaution could save you or your loved one’s life.