If this cocaine gene is a strong association, I’d hate to see a weak one

Boffin finds gene for coke addiction • The Register

A German researcher has found a gene linked to cocaine addiction – coke addicts were 25 per cent more likely to have the gene than those who do not use the drug.

Rainer Spanagel, a professor at the Central Institute of Mental Health in Germany, said: “If you are a carrier of this gene variant, the likelihood of getting addicted to cocaine is higher,” , according to The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA, via the Guardian.

The prof said the discovery could be used to screen people who would be susceptible to working at the BBC the devil’s dandruff and given counselling or even “vaccinated” – given drugs which block the high that comes with cocaine.

Gosh! Wow! 25 percent more likely!

That means, say, if 40 of 100 non-addicts have the allele, then 50 of 100 addicts would have it. Stop the presses!

If half of my hypothetical population were addicted to cocaine, testing for this allele would snare 90 people, of whom 50 would be addicts. Slightly better than tossing a coin to determine who gets counseling. The actual reported number is in the neighborhood of 1%, but let’s say 10% for the heck of it and run the numbers again. Testing for the allele in a population of 10,000 would turn up 3600 non-addicts and 500 addicts. Uh.

If the allele is far less common than that, you get a smaller proportion of non-addicts, but an even smaller proportion of addicts. Bayes strikes again.


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