Study opens door for anti-smoking drug

2011-01-30 22:19

Paris - Scientists have pinpointed a source of nicotine craving in the brain, opening up a new path towards drug treatments to help smokers kick their habit.

A study released on Sunday show that tobacco killed more than five million people every year and accounts for nearly one-in-10 adult deaths, 90% of them due to lung cancer.

In experiments with mice and rats, the researchers mapped the functioning of a gene called CHRNA5 that has been previously fingered in nicotine addiction.

The gene controls a receptor - an entry point on the surface of brain cells - which responds to nicotine molecules.

With a normal version of this gene, anything more than a tiny dose of nicotine triggers a message to the brain which says, in effect, "stop consuming," the scientists found.

Larger doses unleash a sense of repulsion, similar to "bad-tasting food or drink," lead researcher Paul Kenny at the Scripps Research Institute in Florida said in an e-mail exchange.

But the effect was quite different in mice in which a tiny sub-unit of the receptor, known as alpha5, had been knocked out.

The negative message was never sent - and as a result, the rodents couldn't get enough of the potent drug.

A similar scenario occurs naturally in some humans, the researchers believe.

Genome-wide screening studies have identified genetic alterations which impair the alpha5 unit's functioning.

Between 30 and 35% of the population in the United States is thought to have a form of the CHRNA5 gene that encourages unbridled nicotine craving.

"Our data probably explain the fact that individuals with this genetic variation have increased vulnerability to developing tobacco addiction," Kenny said.

"They are likely to be far less sensitive to the averse properties of the drug, and are thus more likely to acquire a nicotine habit."

  • sceptic - 2011-02-01 12:50

    Funny how they keep on blaming nicotine for their addiction!! wake up people!! It is all a government Cover Up! Cigarettes are laced with alcohol, which travels straight to your brain giving the inhaler an instant high! That is what is keeping you hooked, not nicotine!! Nicotine is only partially to blame, yet governments have been bargaining on the fact that millions will be made in revenue ( and they did, and still are) advertising various drugs for weaning oneself off!! Not buying my story? Try lighting up after almost a day without smoking and where do you feel the impact first? Your head!! Ever woke up fine after a night out and then have a cigarette only to feel ten times worse after lightinng up? That is the alcohol overdose to the brain......! In the seventies, cigarettes were not addictive, FACT!! Dont believe me? do some of your own investigations and perhaps even send a cigarrette to a lab! What happens when alcohol gets lit up? It converts to methane The most toxic of all gasses!!Cigarrettes should be banned outright, especially in a world where people can smoke instead of looking after the wellbeing of their own families!!!!

      iggy - 2011-02-01 18:39 alcohol is also highly flammable (that means it burns very easily) and your smoke would go up in flames when you lit it.

      iggy - 2011-02-01 18:48

      FACT: some quick research shows that ethanol (drinking alcohol) forms carbon dioxide and water when it burns.

      iggy - 2011-02-01 18:53

      FACT: Methane is not toxic it is however an asphyxiant (makes it hard to breathe) but then again even your pillow could be used to asphyxiate you.

  • iggy - 2011-02-01 18:57

    FACT: "cigarrette" only has one "r"

  • Paolo Stermin - 2011-06-02 11:23

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  • Paolo Stermin - 2011-06-02 11:25

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  • Paolo Stermin - 2011-06-02 11:26

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  • Paolo Stermin - 2011-06-02 11:31

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  • Paolo Stermin - 2011-06-02 11:33

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  • Paolo Stermin - 2011-06-02 11:33

    test 1234

  • Paolo Stermin - 2011-06-02 11:35


  • Paolo Stermin - 2011-06-02 11:35

    test 334556

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