Some people carry a gene variant that may help protect them from the addictive properties of nicotine in tobacco smoke, according to University of Toronto researchers. Individuals with the variant are less likely to smoke and, if they do smoke, do so with fewer cigarettes than individuals with the normal form of the gene, they report in today's Nature.
The gene is the blueprint for a liver enzyme known as CYP2A6, which helps metabolize nicotine. The researchers speculated that it should be possible to develop drugs that inhibit the normal function of the liver enzyme, thereby helping people to break their addictions.
Compiled by Times medical writer Thomas H. Maugh II