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Nicotine pharmacogenetics: influence of ethnicity

Institution: LA Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center
Investigator(s): Russell Poland, Ph.D.
Award Cycle: 1997 (Cycle 6) Grant #: 6RT-0069 Award: $366,244
Subject Area: Nicotine Dependence
Award Type: Research Project Awards

Initial Award Abstract
Although a great deal is known about how nicotine is broken down in the body by a process called metabolism, the identification of the enzyme(s) in the body involved in the metabolism of nicotine to its major metabolite, cotinine, still remains incompletely understood. Various lines of evidence suggest that one of the enzymes in the body, which goes by the name of CYP2A6, is the major enzyme involved in the metabolism of nicotine. Not only does it appear that the gene responsible for this enzyme can be different in different individuals, but also that the genetic differences are partly based on the ethnicity of the individual. The finding of ethnic differences in nicotine metabolism would have both basic research and clinical implications in relation to both health and disease. For example, subjects who metabolize nicotine faster might be more likely to be addicted to the drug, whereas those who metabolize nicotine more slowly might be more susceptible to heart disease or certain types of cancer. For the proposed study, people from different ethnic groups will be tested to determine how they metabolize nicotine.