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Genes determine whether sugar pills work
Date:12/3/2008

esis of serotonin in the brain (the serotonin transporter gene and the tryptophan hydroxylase-2 gene). The findings showed that only individuals who had certain variants, alleles, of these genes had a moderation of activity in the amygdala. Above all, the tryptophan hydroxylase-2 genes variants could predict the degree of relief from anxiety achieved by the placebo pill as well as the moderation of the amygdala.

Statistical analyses showed that it is a genetic effect on the activity in the amygdala that influences the propensity to respond to a placebo, that is, a path from the gene, via the brain, to behavior.

The study shows for the first time that genes influence the placebo effect by regulating the propensity to react in an area of the brain that is important for our feelings.

This could have significant consequences for all drug testing and other treatment studies that use a placebo.

"The findings show that the possibilities of demonstrating that an active treatment functions better than a placebo can be affected by the gene variants in the trial subjects. It is also possible that genes can explain why certain people respond well or poorly to anxiety-moderating drugs and psychotherapy respectively," says Tomas Furmark.


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Contact: Tomas Furmark
tomas.furmark@psyk.uu.se
46-073-683-3487
Uppsala University
Source:Eurekalert

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