DURHAM, N.C. Physicians may some day have a new tool for tailoring smoking cessation treatments to a patient's individual genetic makeup.
Researchers from Duke University Medical Center and the National Institute on Drug Abuse scanned the entire genetic makeup, or genome, of smokers and found that variants in 221 genes distinguished smokers who were successful in quitting from those who were not.
"The long-term hope is that identifying these genetic variables in smokers will help us determine which type of treatment would be most effective," said Jed Rose, Ph.D., director of Duke's Center for Nicotine and Smoking Cessation Research. "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."
The results of the research were published online April 2, 2007, in the journal BMC Genetics. The study was supported by the National Institutes of Health and Philip Morris USA Inc.
"We now have further evidence that there is a biological basis not only for addiction, but for a smoker's ability to successfully beat the addiction," said George Uhl, Ph.D., a neurologist and neuroscientist in the Molecular Neurobiology Branch of the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Uhl's laboratory performed the genetic screening. "It is becoming clear that there is both a biological and an environmental basis to addiction and the ability to quit. Those involved in getting smokers to quit must pay attention to both factors."
The researchers screened 520,000 individual genes taken from blood samples of smokers and nonsmokers. When they compared the genes of smokers with those who had successfully given up the habit, they found clusters of positive results in 221 gene variants present only in the successful quitters.