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Smoking Cessation Health Center

Genetics May Personalize Quit-Smoking Methods

Study Shows Genetic Profile May Help Smokers Individualize Their Smoking-Cessation Therapy
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Scanning for Genetic Markers continued...

"People who were highly dependent on nicotine and had a certain genotype did better on the higher-dose patch," Rose says. 

The next step is to expand the work and see how -- and in whom -- prescription smoking-cessation medications such as Chantix and Zyban fit in.

In the future, "all of the available aids could be brought into an algorithm that could determine what combination or individual modality would be best by using genetic information and other characteristics of smoking behavior," he says.

It is not one gene that says this smoker will do better with this smoking cessation tool, but a group of genes that when taken together help better guide treatment decisions,  explains study co-researcher George Uhl, MD, PhD, chief of molecular neurobiology research at National Institute on Drug Abuse in Baltimore.

"Some people have an easier time quitting than others, and this one set of markers helps to match people with the right medication," he says.

"The individual differences in the ability to quit smoking are half genetic," he says. "There are several behavioral and pharmacological smoking-cessation tools that are each effective, but none are totally effective [and] it would be nice to know which [genetic] variants are selective for behavioral or medical approaches or both," he says.

Matching the Medication to the Individual

Scott McIntosh, PhD, director of the Greater Rochester Area Tobacco Cessation Center and an associate professor of community and preventive medicine at University of Rochester Medical Center, is all for this new, individualized approach to smoking cessation.

"This is an excellent direction to go in because you can tailor quit attempts by making sure that you have the best medication for that person," he says.

There may be other genetic markers that can help point smokers toward the most effective therapies, he says. 

For example, "someone who is very social might do better with a telephone quit line or group counseling, whereas someone who is not as social may do better if they just received information on how to quit," he says.

"There will be genetic markers for that sort of thing," McIntosh predicts. "There is no one-size-fits-all approach to smoking cessation, and this type of treatment matching can help physicians further tailor their approach," he says.

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