Melbourne Medical School Collected Works - Research Publications

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    Genetics and public health - evolution, or revolution?
    Halliday, JL ; Collins, VR ; Aitken, MA ; Richards, MPM ; Olsson, CA (BMJ PUBLISHING GROUP, 2004-11-01)
    During the 19th and early 20th century, public health and genetics shared common ground through similar approaches to health promotion in the population. By the mid-20th century there was a division between public health and genetics, with eugenicists estranged and clinical genetics focused on single gene disorders, usually only relevant to small numbers of people. Now through a common interest in the aetiology of complex diseases such as heart disease and cancer, there is a need for people working in public health and genetics to collaborate. This is not a comfortable convergence for many, particularly those in public health. Nine main concerns are reviewed: fear of eugenics; genetic reductionism; predictive power of genes; non-modifiable risk factors; rights of individuals compared with populations; resource allocation; commercial imperative; discrimination; and understanding and education. This paper aims to contribute to the thinking and discussion about an evolutionary, multidisciplinary approach to understanding, preventing, and treating complex diseases.
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    Nicotine dependence in a prospective population-based study of adolescents: the protective role of a functional tyrosine hydroxylase polymorphism
    Anney, RJL ; Olsson, CA ; Lotfi-Miri, M ; Patton, GC ; Williamson, R (LIPPINCOTT WILLIAMS & WILKINS, 2004-02-01)
    Dopamine is a key neurotransmitter of the mesolimbic reward pathway in the human brain, and tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) is the rate-limiting enzyme in dopamine biosynthesis. Consequently, the gene encoding TH is a strong candidate for involvement in the genetic component of addiction. The importance of this gene in nicotine dependence is supported by many studies showing a link between nicotine administration and TH expression. A functional tetranucleotide repeat polymorphism within intron 1 of the TH gene (HUMTH01-VNTR) has been shown to modify tobacco use in two independent Caucasian samples from the USA and Australia. Using information drawn from an eight-wave Australian population-based longitudinal study of adolescent health, we tested the effect of the HUMTH01-VNTR on nicotine dependence. Comparisons were made between dependent smokers and non-dependent smokers. These data provide further support for a protective association between the K4 allele and dependent smoking (odds ratio 0.54, 95% confidence interval 0.28-1.0). No associations were observed at any of three other common TH polymorphisms (rs6356, rs6357 and HUMTH01-PstI). Including these data, three independent studies, two of which use identical phenotypes, have now identified a protective relationship between the K4 allele of the functional HUMTH01-VNTR polymorphism and high-level smoking.