The National Institute on Drug Abuse has awarded a five-year grant totaling $3,381,769 to Jackson Laboratory Assistant Professor Vivek Kumar, Ph.D., to pinpoint genetic variants that increase susceptibility to addiction.
“Addiction is an enormous economic, personal and social burden in the U.S.,” Kumar says. “Understanding the factors that influence vulnerability to addiction, and developing effective therapies, requires identifying the genes and pathways involved in the process of addiction.”
Having screened thousands of mice carrying random genetic mutations, Kumar and his lab have identified mouse lines sensitive to cocaine, as well as lines that exhibit hyperactivity and anxiety. The new grant will support detailed studies of these mutant mouse lines, using advanced genetics and genomics techniques, to identify the causative genes.
The Kumar Lab has already used this approach to discover a novel regulator of cocaine responses, Cyfip2. “Identifying the causative genetic variants in these mouse lines, and the genes involved, has significant potential to advance our understanding of the factors involved in vulnerability to addiction,” Kumar says. “The ultimate goal is to use this knowledge to develop therapeutic targets to treat or even prevent addiction.”