Scientists have now discovered a clue to why some people are more prone to addiction than others. An ancient retrovirus that dates back earlier than modern humans may explain why people suffer from addiction, they have said.
Retroviruses are viruses that can inject their DNA into the genome of the host.
Researchers studied drug users in two cities and found they were up to about three times more likely than others to have remnants of the HK2 virus within a particular gene in their DNA.
“The virus dates back at least to Neanderthals and is present in the RASGRF2 gene – which a researcher called the ‘pleasure gene’ because it increases the activity of dopamine in the brain – in about 5 percent to 10 percent of people,” according to a CNN feature.
That percentage of the population could therefore be predisposed to addictive behavior, according to the scientists.
This is the third time retroviruses have been strongly linked with a detrimental effect in humans, after the discoveries of the immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and the T-lymphotropic virus (HTLV), according to the researchers.
51could be prone to any sort of addictive behavior
The same gene was considered a factor in binge-drinking in an earlier study in 2012.