CAMH protein discovery may lead to new treatment to prevent smoking relapse

October 22, 2012

Scientists at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) have identified a potential new approach to preventing smoking relapse, which occurs frequently in smokers who attempt to quit, despite current treatments.

"We have developed a protein peptide that may be a new type of highly targeted treatment to prevent smoking relapse," says Dr. Fang Liu, Senior Scientist in CAMH's Campbell Family Mental Health Research Institute and Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto.

Dr. Liu and her team initially found that can enhance binding between two types of – a and a glutamate receptor. They identified the sites where the two receptors bind together. With this information, they were able to generate a protein peptide to disrupt the binding of the two receptors.

Working with CAMH Senior Scientist Dr. Anh Dzung Le, the peptide was then tested in an animal model of relapse. As anticipated, it had the effect of reducing attempts to seek nicotine.

"These discoveries present an avenue to develop an anti-smoking medication that directly targets the relapse process by focusing on this brain target," says Dr. Liu, whose study was published online in the today. "We hope that it will lead to an alternative treatment for smokers who aren't succeeding with current medications." A year after treatment with current medications, only about 20 per cent of people remain abstinent, past research shows.

"As research continues, future steps are to determine how this discovery can be translated into a novel intervention for patients," says Dr. Liu. "We are optimistic that our findings will lead to new options for treatment for smoking, which is the leading preventable cause of disease, disability and premature death in our society."

Explore further: Smokers' genetic background impacts brain opioid receptors, smoking relapse

Related Stories

Helping ex-smokers resist the urge

October 22, 2012

A new inhibitor helps previously nicotine-addicted rats stay on the wagon, according to a study published on October 22nd in the Journal of Experimental Medicine.

Recommended for you

Older people getting smarter, but not fitter

August 31, 2015

Older populations are scoring better on cognitive tests than people of the same age did in the past —a trend that could be linked to higher education rates and increased use of technology in our daily lives, say IIASA population ...

Higher intelligence score means better physical performance

August 14, 2015

New research reveals a distinct association between male intelligence in early adulthood and their subsequent midlife physical performance. The higher intelligence score, the better physical performance, the study reveals. ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.