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Parkinson's drug may help smokers who want to quit

Capsules

February 10, 2003|Dianne Partie Lange

People who have repeatedly tried to stop smoking may get a break from the addiction with a drug often used to treat Parkinson's disease.

As part of a Yale University study, 20 smokers were given selegiline hydrochloride (L-Deprenyl or Eldepryl) and 20 were given a placebo; both groups attended weekly counseling. After eight weeks, 45% of smokers had quit, but only 15% of those taking a placebo did so.

Because people addicted to drugs or cigarettes may have lower than normal levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine, which leads to drug cravings and use, keeping the dopamine levels up may prevent cravings when the smoker quits, explains the lead author of the study, Tony P. George, assistant professor of psychiatry at Yale University Medical School. Selegiline inhibits the enzyme monoamine oxidase B (MAO-B), that normally breaks down dopamine, keeping dopamine levels from falling. Although other investigators have evaluated MAO-B inhibitors in smokers, this is the first published study to test the drug's effects on quitting smoking.

The study was published in the Jan. 15 issue of Biological Psychiatry.

-- Dianne Partie Lange

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