Biomarker helps guide study on smoking cessation treatments

Building on new insights gained from the discovery of a biomarker that can be used to track individual differences for the rate at which nicotine breaks down in the body, a team of researchers at the University of Pennsylvania say they are pushing ahead on a new study to help guide the development of personalized smoking cessation therapies.

"In an extension of our previous work in the Pharmacogenetics of Nicotine Addiction Treatment research program, we will conduct the first large prospective pharmacogenetic clinical trial of different smoking cessation medications," said psych professor Caryn Lerman, scientific director of Penn's Abramson Cancer Center. "Smoking is the greatest preventable cause of morbidity and mortality. It is imperative to find better ways to optimize the delivery of specific treatments to increase the success rates for smokers who wish to quit."

In their new study, 1,350 adult smokers will be assessed to see whether they metabolize nicotine slowly or quickly. They will then be sorted into two groups--slow metabolizers and normal metabolizers--and randomized to treatment with a placebo, a nicotine patch, or Pfizer's Chantix (varenicline). Each participant will also provide DNA which will be used to identify additional gene variants that may also contribute to nicotine addiction treatment response. The prospective, double-blind placebo-controlled trial will be completed within the next four years.

- check out the Penn release for more info