Researchers at the University of Nebraska Medical Center need volunteers to take part in a study that look at a person’s genetic risk for nicotine dependence. Dr. Julia Houfek is the lead researcher of the study at UNMC’s College of Nursing in Omaha and says they hope to answer the question as to why some smokers can quit and others can’t.
They will look for 90 people to enroll in the study. Half of the participants will receive information about their genetic profile. The others will not receive the information until after the study is complete. Participants will give a genetic sample through a cheek swab and that will help researchers determine if they have one of three variations on the gene that influences nicotine addiction. They hope to find out how participants interpret the information and if they seek out ways to help them quit on their own. There is no requirement to quit smoking to participate.
They also hope to find out which treatments work best depending on their genetic make-up. Dr. Houfek says about 70% of all smoking behavior is influenced by genes and they are harnessing new technology that enables the identification of specific genes that influence someone to start smoking and continue. This information could be used in the future that would tailor smoking cessation programs depending on which addiction gene the smoker carries.
Those interested in learning more can contact UNMC at 402-559-6549.