Genes Predict If Medication Can Help You Quit Smoking

by Jenny Novac on June 20, 2012

The study that was led by researches at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis supposes that soon it will be possible to forecast which patients can use drug therapies in order to get rid of nicotine addiction.

Laura Jean Bierut, MD, professor of psychiatry says that smoking people whose genetic makeup exposes them to heavy smoking, nicotine dependence and problems quitting the habit as well turn out to be the same people who respond most healthy to pharmacological treatment for quitting smoking,” says senior investigator.

Smoking Teen

A teen exhaling cigarette smoke

Bierut says that their research demonstrates that an individual’s genetic makeup can help forecast who can respond to drug treatment in order to be sure those people are treated with medication together with counseling.

The investigators examined data from more than 5,000 smoking people who were participants in community-based studies and more than 1,000 smoking people in a clinical therapy study. The researches concentrated on the relationship between their capability to stop smoking satisfactory and genetic variations that have been connected with risk for heavy smoking and nicotine addiction.

“Those people who have the high-risk genes used cigarettes at the mean of 2 years longer than those without risky genetic markers, and they can stop smoking without therapy,” says first author Li-Shiun Chen, MD, assistant professor of psychiatry at Washington University.

Persons with the high-risk variants were 3 times more likely to respond to medical treatment, such as nicotine patches, nicotine gum and other medications used to help people get rid of smoking.

As individuals without high-risk genetic variants aren’t as likely to respond to medications, Bierut says they should be counseled and get other non-drug treatments.

Li-Shiun Chen said that this is an actionable genetic finding. Chen stated that research journals release genetic obtained data every day, but this one is actionable because therapy could be founded on an individual’s genetic makeup. I suppose that this research give us a chance to move closer to personalized medicine, which is where we want to go.”

And Bierut says that though earlier researches supposed the genes had only a moderate reaction on smoking and dependence, the new clinical data show that the genetic variations are having a big effect on therapy response.

“These variants make a very moderate contribution to the development of nicotine dependence, but they have a much greater effect on the response to therapy. That’s a huge reveal,” she says.


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