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Yammine receives $2.25 million NIDA grant to study smoking cessation

Written By: Aaron Zapata, Faillace Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences | Updated: August 22, 2022
Masked Smoker

A four-year, $2.25 million grant to identify a novel approach for facilitating smoking abstinence and limiting post-smoking cessation weight gain has been awarded to UTHealth Houston researcher Luba Yammine, PhD, by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

Post-cessation weight gain is frequently cited as a primary barrier to smoking cessation and a reason for smoking relapse, but is also associated with an increased risk of obesity and Type 2 diabetes. Availability of efficient approaches to smoking cessation and post-cessation weight management would encourage more smokers to quit and reduce the risk of relapse and premature morbidity and mortality among those who quit.

Luba Yammine, NP
Luba Yammine, NP

“The efficacy of the currently available smoking cessation treatments is modest at best,” said Yammine, associate professor at the Faillace Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. “The health benefits of achieving smoking abstinence are extensive, however, 80%-90% of those who quit smoking gain weight, which partially attenuates these benefits.”

This clinical trial will examine the impact of a glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonist (GLP-1RA) extended-release exenatide, combined with nicotine patch, on smoking cessation and changes in weight. GLP-1RAs are currently used clinically for the treatment of Type 2 diabetes and weight management; however, preclinical studies indicate that GLP-1RAs reduce the intake of nicotine and other addictive substances.

This clinical trial builds off a recent project Yammine designed. She led the first human investigation of exenatide for smoking cessation and post-cessation weight management, which showed that exenatide holds promise in improving both smoking and weight outcomes.

The project is scheduled to begin enrollment in the fall and will involve collaboration between the UTHealth Houston Center for Neurobehavioral Research on AddictionMichael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center, and The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

“We are very excited to receive this grant funding,” Yammine said. “That gives us the opportunity to confirm and extend these promising findings over a longer treatment and follow-up period in a substantially larger sample of smokers.”

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