Professor & Students Study The Genetics Connected To Addiction

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More than 20 million Americans over the age of 12 battle addiction according to the Addiction Center.

It’s a problem that’s only getting bigger and it’s leading researchers to ask, is there science behind addiction?

Researchers locally are putting that question to the test

And discovering that it may be something in our genes that makes one person more susceptible to addiction than another.

“We do science here and everyday is unexpected,” said Bikalpa Ghimire, Biology/Math Major, MSU.

Zeni Shabani has been doing research on drug addiction for 4 years.

He wants to find out if there is a correlation between addiction and DNA with a mouse model system.

They take the mice and inject a dose of methamphetamine and put them in one side of the box that is light.

Then next time they’ll inject placebo which is a harmless drug and put the mouse in the other side of the box which is darker.

“So what we’re trying to see is are the animals associated with drug want to spend more time in drug floor or placebo floor,” said Ghimire.

They’ve found a receptor known as Chromosome 10. Every person has this receptor – but some have a slightly different version of it that could be associated with vulnerability.

“A small population, 15% or so really like that initial experience and they are the ones that are vulnerable,” said Zeni Shabani, Assistant Professor, MSU.

The research specifically targets methamphetamine addiction. It’s a project not only Shabani is taking on.

Two of his students are also adding their brain power.

“You study something in class, you understand terminology and when you use the same terminology in the lab and see the fruitful results of it, it’s a lively experience,” said Ghimire.

The helping hands all lead to the ultimate goal. Finding a way to fight addiction.

“You can create drugs that target that specific gene and hopefully you can turn down that gene,” said Shabani.

One of the students has been working with Shabani since the beginning in 2014.

Bikalpa has joined the research team in 2015.

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