DNA provides key to successful quitting smoking

Smokers who want to quit now have up to nine times greater chance of doing so, thanks to new DNA testing launched today by Oxford University’s newest spin-out, G-Nostics.

Smoking has been identified as the principal avoidable cause of premature deaths in the UK. One in two smokers dies prematurely: of these, nearly one in four will die of lung cancer. With the launch of NicoTest™, G-Nostics aims to give people suffering from nicotine addiction a powerful new tool, which will give them greater control of their bodies than was previously possible.

The new test is based on research carried out by Dr Rob Walton in the University’s Department of Clinical Pharmacology. Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) have been identified that have highly predictive associations with nicotine addiction and therefore tobacco consumption. These SNPs can provide insight to help individuals decide which specific smoking cessation methods would be effective, offering personalised treatment to the smoker which significantly increases their chances of quitting.

The discovery has allowed the development of a simple diagnostic test to assess the degree of dependence. Quitters provide a DNA sample and answer an online lifestyle questionnaire covering their smoking habits. Their DNA is then analysed to see how they will respond to nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) and other treatments for tobacco addiction. The test also gives a ‘metabolic profile’ which indicates how quickly the smoker clears nicotine from their body. This helps to determine the appropriate dose of NRT.

The test results are combined with analysis of the lifestyle issues that affect the smoker’s addiction allowing the creation of a unique Personalised Treatment Programme. This Programme is a prescription for a combination of specific, appropriate NRT and a series of lifestyle pointers to maximise chances of success.

Mark Tucker, CEO and co-founder G-Nostics, says of the launch of NicoTest™: ‘We know that beating nicotine addiction requires far more than will-power alone. Different people react to nicotine in different ways and our genes determine how we’ll respond to NRT.

‘Research shows that 96 per cent of people who try to quit fail, in large part because their bodies react badly to some types of NRT. Patches, chewing gum and inhalers are hugely important in helping people wean themselves off nicotine, but crucially, taken in the wrong quantities, or using the wrong product, can lead to uncomfortable side effects and ultimately failure.

‘NicoTest™ relies on analysis of a person’s DNA and gives us a clear read-out of exactly how each person can maximise their own chances of success. Presently, too much medical advice relies on a ‘one size fits all’ approach. The future lies in tailored therapy to reduce side effects and increase the chances of successful treatment.'

For more information on NicoTest™ visit www.nicotest.com.

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