Researchers develop potential drugs to help curb smoking

August 28, 2018 by Eric Sorensen, Washington State University
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Washington State University researchers have created more than a dozen candidate drugs with the potential to curb smokers' desire for nicotine by slowing how it is broken down in the body. The researchers hope the substances can help people reduce their consumption of tobacco, if not quit altogether.

The discovery, published in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, targets a liver enzyme, called CYP2A6, which metabolizes nicotine. Canadian researchers in the mid-90s found that people who have fewer copies of a gene for the enzyme tend to smoke less and are less likely to be addicted to smoking.

Nicotine triggers the release of dopamine and serotonin, two pleasure causing chemicals produced by the body. But as it gets metabolized, users can experience withdrawal symptoms like tingling in the hands and feet, sweating, anxiety and irritability.

This is the feeling that the researchers are targeting, said Travis Denton, assistant professor of pharmaceutical sciences, lead author and a former tobacco chewer who has been working on solutions to nicotine dependence for 15 years.

"I quit and I know how hard it is. Would this have helped? I believe so, because again, the people who want to quit, really want to quit," he said. "They just can't because it's too doggone hard. Imagine if you could take this pill and your jitters don't come on as fast—it's just super reinforcing to help you quit."

Denton and Philip Lazarus, co-corresponding author of the paper and Boeing distinguished professor of pharmaceutical sciences, designed dozens of molecules that bind to CYP2A6 and inhibit its ability to metabolize .

"If you inhibit CYP2A6, it shouldn't bother your overall health," said Lazarus. "If we could specifically target this , people should be fine, and it will possibly help them stop smoking or at least decrease their amount of smoking."

So far, the researchers have tested their candidate drugs to make sure they don't disrupt other major enzymes that help the body metabolize other substances. This helped narrow the number of potential drugs down to 18.

Once the Food and Drug Administration verifies a 's safety, clinical trials would begin to see how it works in a human.

Explore further: Gene influences success of nicotine replacement therapy in smokers

More information: Travis T. Denton et al, Identification of the 4-Position of 3-Alkynyl and 3-Heteroaromatic Substituted Pyridine Methanamines as a Key Modification Site Eliciting Increased Potency and Enhanced Selectivity for Cytochrome P-450 2A6 Inhibition, Journal of Medicinal Chemistry (2018). DOI: 10.1021/acs.jmedchem.8b00084

Related Stories

Gene influences success of nicotine replacement therapy in smokers

October 18, 2013
(Medical Xpress)—A gene that controls how quickly smokers process nicotine also predicts whether people who try to kick the habit are likely to respond to nicotine replacement therapy, a new study shows.

Little 'quit-smoking' help at U.S. mental health centers

May 10, 2018
(HealthDay)—Many mental health and addiction treatment centers in the United States don't help patients quit smoking, a new government study finds.

Understanding the role of genes in smoking addiction, nicotine withdrawal

October 18, 2016
Thomas Gould hopes to better understand how genes influence nicotine-withdrawal symptoms in order to develop more effective smoking cessation programs.

No clear evidence that nicotine 'preloading' helps smokers to quit

June 13, 2018
There is insufficient evidence to show that using nicotine patches for four weeks before a quit attempt (known as "preloading") improves long-term smoking abstinence, finds a trial published by The BMJ this week.

Animal study suggests common diabetes drug may also help with nicotine withdrawal

April 5, 2018
In a mouse study, a drug that has helped millions of people around the world manage their diabetes might also help people ready to kick their nicotine habits.

Recommended for you

Japanese team creates human oogonia using human stem cells in artificial mouse ovaries

September 21, 2018
A team of researchers with members from several institutions in Japan has successfully generated human oogonia inside of artificial mouse ovaries using human stem cells. In their paper published in the journal Science, the ...

A new approach to developing a vaccine against vivax malaria

September 21, 2018
A novel study reports an innovative approach for developing a vaccine against Plasmodium vivax, the most prevalent human malaria parasite outside sub-Saharan Africa. The study led by Hernando A. del Portillo and Carmen Fernandez-Becerra, ...

A Trojan Horse delivery for treating a rare, potentially deadly, blood-clotting disorder

September 21, 2018
In proof-of-concept experiments, University of Alabama at Birmingham researchers have highlighted a potential therapy for a rare but potentially deadly blood-clotting disorder, TTP. The researchers deliver this therapeutic ...

Researchers explore how changes in diet alter microbiome in artificial intestine

September 21, 2018
Using an artificial intestine they created, researchers have shown that the microbiome can quickly adapt from the bacterial equivalent of a typical western diet to one composed exclusively of dietary fats. That adaptation ...

Study identifies stem cell that gives rise to new bone and cartilage in humans

September 20, 2018
A decade-long effort led by Stanford University School of Medicine scientists has been rewarded with the identification of the human skeletal stem cell.

Scientists grow human esophagus in lab

September 20, 2018
Scientists working to bioengineer the entire human gastrointestinal system in a laboratory now report using pluripotent stem cells to grow human esophageal organoids.

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.