After reading the section in our book on sexuality and noticing that most of the research for the biological basis of homosexuality was from 2003 or earlier, I was interested to know if there was any more recent research on the subject. A 2007 article from Science Daily was by far the most interesting that I came across.
In a study conducted at University of Illinois in Chicago, researchers found a gene, which they termed "genderblind" or GB, that influenced homosexual behavior in male fruit flies; male flies with a GB mutation went so far as attempting to mate with other male flies. The GB gene was found to influence levels of glutamate, a neurotransmitter we learned about in Chapter 3, that affects cell-signaling strength. Specifically, the researchers hypothesized that homosexual behavior might be a result of increases signaling strength of GB synapses. The most surprising part of the article was the ability of researchers to "change" sexual orientation by altering the synapse strength.
When I was reading this article, I actually became rather apprehensive about the research. In a society where homosexuality is still viewed as "wrong" by a majority of the population, I worry about what might happen if researchers discover a similar GB gene in humans. There are already "doctors" who claim they can cure homosexuality; the implications of finding a mutation that can influence sexuality and being able to turn that gene on and off could lead to even more stigma against homosexual and bisexual individuals. However, I do not believe that the GB gene could be the sole determinant of sexuality based on the numerous biological factors discussed in our book, but it does appear to be an important aspect for flies.
Similarly, in our book it mentions that another neurotransmitter, serotonin, might influence sexual orientation as well. The book stated that decreased serotonin may lead to increased sexual desire, and women with a high sex drive also tend to seek out male and female sexual partners (although this is not true for men). As a pharmacy technician, this makes me wonder if eventually there will be drugs that affect glutamate or serotonin with the sole purpose to inhibit homosexual behavior and emotions. I know that there are already medications to increase serotonin levels that have the side effect of decreased libido. It would be interesting to study whether or not bisexual women taking these medications have a decreased level of attraction towards women as well, or if there were physicians out there who had already tried prescribing serotonin-elevating medications as a "treatment" for bisexuality in women.