In a presentation at the 3rd Smoking Cessation Conference in Philadelphia, W. Jeffrey Allard, PhD, clinical affairs director of Synergenz Bioscience Ltd, told listeners that smokers who learn their personal risk of lung cancer through gene-based risk assessment are more likely to be motivated to quit their habit.

Allard went on to say that utilizing the Respiragene™ test, which uses genetic markers and clinical variables to tell smokers their risk of developing lung cancer compared with other smokers, can help counter a tendency of a smoker to underestimate their personal risk of smoking complications.

"Many current smokers suffer from ‘optimistic bias,’ the belief that while smoking is bad for them, the illness and early death that comes with it affects other smokers, not them," said Allard.

Citing a review article on the topic that will appear in Postgraduate Medical Journal, Allard said, "But at the same time, when offered the chance to find out where they actually stand, studies also show that smokers are very interested in learning their own risk levels, and in many cases take this personal information as a trigger to prompt them to quit.”

Quit rates were highest where smokers had suffered, or appeared to be at immediate risk of, life-threatening complications caused by smoking, according to Allard.

Allard’s company, Synergenz, partnered with PHD Diagnostics LLC to market Respiragene, a genetic-based lung cancer susceptibility test developed by PHD’s clinical lab division, Molecular Diagnostics Laboratories (MDL), specifically for use in the United States. The Respiragene test combines genetic and nongenetic factors to generate a score showing an individual’s risk of lung cancer compared with the average smoker.

The test places chronic smokers and ex-smokers in three categories: A "moderate risk" score means the person has a risk of developing lung cancer comparable to an average smoker, a "hgh risk" score means the person is about four times more likely than those at "moderate risk" to get lung cancer, and those at "very high risk" are about 10 times more likely to get the disease.

The Respiragene test is available from MDL and must be authorized by a physician.