Loosening Nicotine's Deadly Hold

$8 million awarded to develop anti-addiction drugs for tobacco

(RxWiki News) A grant of over $8 million has been awarded to the Scripps Research Institute and the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine to help develop anti-addiction drugs for tobacco users.

Approximately 71 million Americans aged 12 and older use tobacco products, whether it be through cigarettes, cigars or smokeless tobacco. Tobacco use results in around 440,000 deaths in the United States every year. Nicotine in tobacco is highly addictive and makes quitting very difficult for most people.

Recently, the Scripps Research Institute and the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine received a grant of over $8 million over a five year period to develop anti-addiction drug candidates for tobacco addicts. Primarily, their research will try and find new methods of treatment, such as targeting the nicotine receptors in the brain.

Studies have found several genetic variations of nicotine receptors in the brain that can actually make a person more likely to become addicted. On the flip side, a subunit of receptors have also been found that protect against addiction.

Instead of focusing on reducing nicotine's reward center trigger in the brain, the team hopes to enhance the drug's "inhibitory effects" to this same area of the brain.

Both the Scripps Institute and the University of Pennsylvania plan to take a different approach, focusing on brain receptor subunits and behavioral patterns respectively.

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Review Date: 
January 14, 2011