(Penelope Lind, John Whitfield, Grant Montgomery)
Excessive alcohol consumption remains a major public health concern in Australia and throughout the world. The health, social and economic problems (including lost productivity, healthcare costs and crime or road accident-related costs) linked to alcohol abuse impact both the individual consumer and society as a whole. There is substantial evidence that genetic variation in biologically relevant alcohol-metabolising genes influence patterns of alcohol intake and other alcohol-related behaviours. Alcohol dehydrogenases (ADH) are enzymes that oxidise alcohol to acetaldehyde in the liver and common variants (polymorphisms that occur at >10% frequency) are known to influence both alcohol consumption as well as dependence.
Our aim is to discover rare genetic variants in seven genes of the ADH cluster and to test whether they confer risk to consuming excessive quantities of alcohol in the Australian population. To allow for an efficient and cost-effective pilot study, a novel technique that allows rapid sequencing of pooled samples will be utilised in which pools of individuals that report consuming high or low quantities of alcohol on a single occasion will be drawn from a unique set of twin and family studies collected the Genetic Epidemiology group at QIMR Berghofer.