"We are now trying to use this information, in new studies of people who are trying to quit, to see if we can increase the power of the approaches to smoking cessation," Uhl said. "We want to target smokers with what would be the best way to help them quit."
In the future, knowing which smokers are more likely to respond to specific treatments would help tailor treatment to individual needs, Uhl said.
The study was supported by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, the tobacco company Philip Morris USA Inc., and the drug maker GlaxoSmithKline.
Dr. Norman H. Edelman, scientific consultant to the American Lung Association, said he thinks that using genetic information to help people quit smoking is still far in the future.
"There are a lot of powerful tools now that let people go on fishing expeditions for genetic linkages, and you're always going to find something," he said. "The fact that they found the few genes that correlate with whether you're successful in smoking cessation is not surprising. Your ability to quit is going to depend at least somewhat on your genetic background."
There may be value in being able to determine who will respond best to individual treatments, Edelman said.
"I don't think this is going to be used clinically anytime soon, but it's of some interest that they could make a distinction about who responds to which treatments," he said.
For more on how to stop smoking, visit the American Cancer Society.
SOURCES: George R. Uhl, M.D., Ph.D., chief, molecular neurobiology research branch, National Institute on Drug Abuse; Norman H. Edelman, M.D., scientific consultant, American Lung Association, New York City; June 2008, Archives of General Psychiatry
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