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Duke researchers: smoking may be tied to genes

June 8, 2008 3:40:38 PM PDT
New research from Duke University finds the best way to quit smoking may be tied to your genetic makeup.

Researchers have identified patterns of genes that appear to reveal whether a smoker will have better luck quitting between two different types of treatments.

Ask any smoker and they'll tell you it's not an easy habit to break.

"I've tried everything, cold turkey, slowing down," smoker Linwood Jenrette says.

And smoker Laura Duncan has tried equally as much. "I've tried patches, all over the counter medication. I haven't found anything that works."

The answer to finding out what works best may be tied to your genes, according to new research.

"This is really the beginning of trying to clarify the picture," says Dr. Jed Rose, director Duke Center for Nicotine and Smoking Cessation.

Dr. Rose helped lead the study. He says by looking at specific gene markers, scientists can reveal how well smokers will respond to two specific treatments -- nicotine replacement therapy and the prescription medication, Zyban.

"One of the genes that was predictive success for Zyban had to deal with a gene that controls and enzyme that breaks down the chemical that is in Zyban called bupropion," Rose said. "So, that made sense from the standpoint that the metabolism of the drug would be expected to perhaps to influence the success rates on that drug."

For 20 researchers at Duke who did this gene study about quitting smoking say because of it, it might not be too far off that you may be able to head to your doctor to get a blood test to determine which type of therapy works best for you.

"DNA is extracted from blood cells and looked at by a microchip," Dr. Rose said. "And by analyzing the different variations with genes to be able to predict which treatment will give a smoker the best chance of success."

Researchers at Duke's Center for Nicotine and Smoking Cessation are still looking for patients to take part in their study.


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