Source: Yale University
Date: 15 November 2004

Yale Study Might Help Smokers Quit

New Haven, Conn. -- Yale researchers are conducting a study of a medication that could help reduce the withdrawal symptoms that might sabotage the efforts of people who are trying to quit smoking.

Andrea Weinberger, project director for the new trial, says dopamine levels in the brain might be part of the reason why withdrawal symptoms occur. The researchers will test the effectiveness of a monoamine oxidase B (MAO-B) inhibitor called Selegiline, which allows smokers who are trying to quit to maintain higher levels of dopamine. "For some smokers, it might help them get through the withdrawal period," Weinberger said.

The study is seeking people who smoke at least 15 cigarettes a day and who have no major medical or current addictive or psychiatric illnesses. People enrolled in the study will undergo several screening sessions, including a full medical exam. Some smokers will then randomly receive the medication and some will receive a placebo, or inactive sugar pill. Smokers will not know which group they are in. All smokers will receive smoking cessation counseling on a weekly basis where they will get information on strategies for quitting, coping with withdrawal and cravings, and other relapse prevention techniques. Smokers will be asked to participate in the study for about 10 weeks, with periodic follow-ups for the next six months.

In addition to participating in the larger study, all smokers will be asked if they would like to be included in a related study that will try to find out more about how expectations affect smoking cessation. "We will try to find out what they believe about the effect that smoking has on them and how these beliefs change over the course of an attempt to stop smoking," Weinberger said.

To learn more about the study, or to sign up, please call 203-974-7867.

Tony George, M.D., associate professor of psychiatry at Yale, is the principal investigator on this study. The studies are supported by a $1.5 million grant from The National Institute on Drug Abuse awarded to George, and a pilot project grant to Weinberger from the Transdisciplinary Tobacco Use Research Center, which is part of the Center for Nicotine and Tobacco Use Research at Yale.

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