Genes May Help Some Quit Smoking

MONDAY, April 2 (HealthDay News) -- Smokers without certain DNA may face an even tougher battle kicking the habit, new research shows.

A U.S. study finds that people who were able to quit smoking had variants in 221 genes that weren't found in smokers who weren't able to kick the habit. The researchers analyzed 520,000 genes taken from blood samples.

"The long-term hope is that identifying these genetic variables in smokers will help us determine which type of treatment would be most effective," Jed Rose, director of Duke University's Center for Nicotine and Smoking Cessation Research, in Durham, N.C., said in a prepared statement.

His team published the study online Monday in the journal BMC Genetics.

The findings suggest that doctors may be able to tailor smoking cessation programs to a person's individual genetic makeup, the researchers said.

"Knowing a smoker's genetic makeup could indicate how intensely they need to be treated. People who are having trouble quitting because of their genes might need more treatment to overcome their addiction," Rose said.

The scientists said they understood the function of 187 of the 221 gene variants that were present only in smokers who had been able to quit. The functions of the remaining gene variants still need to be determined.

"We also found that at least 30 of the genes that we had previously identified as playing roles in dependence to other drugs also contribute to nicotine dependence. These findings lend further support to the idea that nicotine dependence shares some common genetic vulnerabilities with addictions to other legal and illegal substances," George Uhl, a neurologist and neuroscientist in the molecular neurobiology branch of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, said in a prepared statement.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: Duke University, news release, April 2, 2007

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