A 2016 study identified a small set of genes that can predict who has a high propensity to heroin addiction.

Genetic predisposition to heroin addiction and the assay of these genes could be used in combination with “other social, familial programs to help prevent the occurrence and the relapse of heroin addiction in clinical settings,” researchers wrote.

Researchers from Taiwan, led by Dr. Shaw-Ji Chen, measured the transcript level of 13 genes in a sample of 124 male heroin addicts and the same number of male control subjects. Seven of the 13 genes showed “significant differential expression between the two groups,” they wrote. They used additional analysis to reveal a set of four genes that could predict heroin addiction with about an 85 percent rate of accuracy.

In 2015 about 15 million adults used intravenous drugs, including heroin. And according to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime’s 2016 World Drug Report, there were approximately a million heroin users in the U.S. in 2014, nearly triple the amount in 2003.

Genetic testing has been used in the past to predict addiction. A set of differentially expressed genes were detected in the postmortem human brains in cocaine abusers compared to… (continue reading)