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News

New pharmacological strategies could help smokers quit

Yale University : 26 January, 2004  (New Product)
'Different smokers respond to different medication treatments because of different biological subtypes of nicotine dependence,' said lead author, Tony George, M.D., assistant professor of psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine. 'For example, nicotine replacement therapy doesn't seem to work as well for women as it does for men. Women may respond better to Buproprion or Naltrexone. In this article, we review all the relevant medications and weight the evidence for and against their use as a smoking cessation aid.'
Quitting smoking is not a one-size-fits-all proposition and researchers are beginning to understand why, according to a Yale study published in this month's Trends in Pharmacological Sciences.

'Different smokers respond to different medication treatments because of different biological subtypes of nicotine dependence,' said lead author, Tony George, M.D., assistant professor of psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine. 'For example, nicotine replacement therapy doesn't seem to work as well for women as it does for men. Women may respond better to Buproprion or Naltrexone. In this article, we review all the relevant medications and weight the evidence for and against their use as a smoking cessation aid.'

George said recent developments in researchers' understanding of nicotine dependence have identified several neurotransmitter systems which may contribute to the process of smoking maintenance and relapse. Several existing medications are being tested for treatment of nicotine dependence and several novel investigational agents are under development which might provide effective treatments for nicotine dependence in the 'hard to treat' tobacco user, he said.

Many of the people who still smoke, about 23 percent of the population in the United States and about 1.1 billion people worldwide, may also have psychiatric or other drug-abuse disorders that make it harder for them to quit.

George said there is increasing evidence that medications can be matched to anti-smoking strategies for those who still smoke. The information, he said, could prove particularly useful to psychiatrists and other physicians who help treat patients who smoke.

The article is co-authored by Stephanie O'Malley, M.D., principal investigator for the Transdisciplinary Tobacco Use Research Center at Yale. O'Malley, who is currently investigating how naltrexone might help smokers quit, said the article reflects the core mission of TTURC. 'We have a heavy emphasis on translating basic biological mechanisms to treatment, with a focus on helping smokers who find it hard to quit,' she said.

TTURC is part of the Center for Nicotine and Tobacco Use Research at Yale, which is funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the National Cancer Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
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