Hope for reluctant smokers


Paris - A team of French researchers said yesterday it had isolated the key component in the brain that controls nicotine addiction, a discovery that may eventually make giving up smoking as easy as swallowing a pill.

The research team, headed by Dr Jean-Pierre Changeux and helped by researchers from Sweden's Karolinska Institute and Glaxo-Wellcome's labs in Geneva, found the first of 11 subunits, or molecules, of the nicotine receptor in the brain of mice. Humans have the same so-called b2 subunit. The discovery could lead to the development of a drug that would block the receptor responsible for addiction or activate it in a slower way.