Found: gene that means some people can't give up cigarettes

Smokers who have tried to give up cigarettes and failed may soon be able to come up with another excuse - they were born to remain addicted. In the first study of its kind, scientists have identified a series of genetic traits for addictiveness that appear to be inherited by smokers who try but fail to kick the habit.

Scientists believe that the findings could soon open the way to testing a person's genetic make-up to see whether they can be weaned off cigarettes with the help of specially-targeted treatments.

"The long-term hope is that identifying genetic variables in smokers will help us determine which type of treatment would be most effective," said Jed Rose, of Duke University in Durham, North Carolina.

"Knowing a smoker's genetic make-up could indicate how intensely they need to be treated. People who are having trouble quitting because of their genes might need more treatment to overcome their addiction," Dr Rose said. The latest research into the addictiveness of cigarettes suggests that genes play a significant role in making someone dependent on smoking in the first place, and making it more difficult for them to quit once they have started.

It is part of a wider study of the human genome to investigate the genes that appear to play an important role in the formation of a person's psychological make-up, such as an inherited predisposition to addictiveness or risk-taking behaviour.

"This research marks the first time we've been able to identify genes involved in the ability to quit smoking," said Dr Nora Volkow, the director of the US National Institute on Drug Abuse in Washington.

"It marks a movement from identifying the genetics of addiction vulnerability to identifying the genetic basis of successful abstinence. This knowledge could impact the success rate of cessation programmes by helping health care providers choose the most appropriate treatment based on individual differences."

The scientists, who were funded by the US government and Philip Morris, the cigarette makers, screened more than 520,000 genes to compare the genetic variations found among smokers who had successfully given up with genetic variations among smokers who had tried to quit but failed.

"We identified 221 genes that distinguished successful quitters from those who were unsuccessful," said Dr George Uhl, who carried out that analysis at the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

"We know the functions of about 187 of these genes, but 34 have functions that are unknown at present.

"We also found that at least 62 of the genes that we had previously identified as playing roles in dependence to other drugs also contribute to nicotine dependence," he said.

"These findings lend further support to the idea that nicotine dependence shares some common genetic vulnerabilities with addictions to other legal and illegal substances."

One of the genes that appears to differ between smokers who give up and those who cannot is called cadherin 13, which produces a substance known to be involved in controlling how nerve cells in the brain stick together, Dr Rose said. "Smokers whose nerve cell connections are not working properly may be more vulnerable to addiction and may face a tougher time quitting. These findings open up new possibilities in finding specific targets for treatment."

Another of the genes involved in smoking addictiveness is also known to play a role in controlling how people respond to stress - the gene produces a protein that is important in guiding learning processes in the brain, Dr Uhl said.

The next stage of the research will involve testing different forms of treatment for giving up smoking to see how effective they are on people with differing genetic make-up, Dr Volkow said.

"We soon may be able to make use of this information to match treatments with the smokers most likely to benefit from them," Dr Volkow said.

The research is published in the journal, BioMed Central Genetics.

Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
Sport
The Pipes and Drums of The Scottish Regiments perform during the Opening Ceremony for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park on July 23, 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland.
Commonwealth GamesThe actor encouraged the one billion viewers of the event to donate to the children's charity
Sport
Karen Dunbar performs
Entertainers showcase local wit, talent and irrepressible spirit
Sport
Members of the Scotland deleagtion walk past during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on July 23, 2014.
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
film
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
News
Very tasty: Vladimir Putin dining alone, perhaps sensibly
news
Life and Style
Listen here: Apple EarPods offer an alternative
techAre custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?
Arts and Entertainment
Top guns: Cole advised the makers of Second World War film Fury, starring Brad Pitt
filmLt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a uniform
News
The University of California study monitored the reaction of 36 dogs
sciencePets' range of emotions revealed
News
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
News
Joining forces: young British men feature in an Isis video in which they urge Islamists in the West to join them in Iraq and Syria
newsWill the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?
Arts and Entertainment
The nomination of 'The Wake' by Paul Kingsnorth has caused a stir
books
News
i100
Life and Style
food + drinkZebra meat is exotic and lean - but does it taste good?
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

BI Manager - £50,000

£49000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client is...

BI Project Manager - £48,000 - £54,000 - Midlands

£48000 - £54000 per annum + Benefits package: Progressive Recruitment: My clie...

VB.Net Developer

£35000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: If you're pa...

SAP Business Consultant (SD, MM and FICO), £55,000, Wakefield

£45000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP Business...

Day In a Page

Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

Farewell, my lovely

Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
The 10 best pedicure products

Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

Commonwealth Games 2014

Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism
How Terry Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

How Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

Over a hundred rugby league players have contacted clinic to deal with mental challenges of game