Tobacco smoking leads to 90% of all lung cancer cases and contributes to other lung and heart diseases. As shown in a recent publication in Nature, scientists at the Scripps Institute may have a new method for combatting smoking addiction. Their research shows that a specific subunit of the nicotine receptor, the α5 subunit of the acetylcholine receptor, sends inhibitory signals at high doses of nicotine in the brain to prevent continued smoking (or intake of nicotine). When functioning normally, activation of this receptor operates to avoid the negative effects of high nicotine levels. Activating this subunit could be a new way to stop smoking.
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