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NIDA to Fund Addiction-related Gene Studies in Animal Models

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) –The National Institute on Drug Abuse plans to fund research efforts to develop new methods for sequencing, mapping, and analyzing genomes of animals that have been bred to have traits related to addiction, with the aim of identifying gene variants that may be involved in addiction.

NIDA will provide up to $125,000 per year for three years to support these projects, the National Institutes of Health said on Friday.

Behavior studies have shown that alleles that influence addiction-related phenotypes can be selected for in model organisms, and these selectively bred models offer researchers opportunities to identify aspects of physiology and brain function that influence behavior, and to establish the genetic basis for some of these traits.

However, the gene variants that mediate behavioral differences in these model organisms are still largely unknown. That is where new technologies like next-generation sequencing, array-based genotyping, functional genomics, and informatics offer opportunities to discover and validate the functional loci and gene variants that are responsible for these addiction and behavior-related traits.

Through this new funding opportunity, NIH plans to support projects that use these next-generation technologies to search for and validate gene variants in new or previously developed animal models. They may focus on traits such as drug preferences, high and low preference for saccharin, impulsivity, novelty seeking, somatic and affective withdrawal, relapsement, punishment resistant responses for drugs, and others.