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Health Agencies Update
March 19, 2003

NIH Budget Stalls

JAMA. 2003;289(11):1368. doi:10.1001/jama.289.11.1368-a

A common variation in a gene coding for a key brain enzyme increases susceptibility to pain, report researchers from the University of Michigan Medical Center and the National Institute on Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse (NIAAA).

The enzyme, catechol O-methyltransferase (COMT), is vital to normal brain function, as it metabolizes the neurotransmitters norepinephrine and dopamine. The genetic variation changes a valine amino acid to a methionine, resulting in a three- to four-fold reduction in COMT's efficiency.