Clinical Trial to Study Benefits of Nicotine Patches in Sarcoidosis Patients

Patricia Inácio, PhD avatar

by Patricia Inácio, PhD |

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Ohio State University researchers have launched a clinical trial to investigate whether nicotine patches can help treat patients with sarcoidosis. The study (NCT02265874), a collaboration between the university and the Cleveland Clinic, currently is recruiting participants.

Smokers who want to quit often use nicotine patches, which slowly release nicotine through the skin and into the bloodstream.

A team of researchers at Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center wants to see if nicotine patches can benefit patients with sarcoidosis, a chronic lung disease triggered by inhaling pesticides or other harmful materials. While the disease often is resolved in some patients, it can lead to severe lung damage in others, especially if untreated.

Current sarcoidosis therapies rely heavily on the use of steroids such as prednisone. However, long-term use of steroids can cause serious side effects, including high blood pressure, osteoporosis, and diabetes.

In search of alternative therapies, the Ohio State team led by Elliott Crouser, MD, launched a small clinical trial for three months, where they tested the potential benefits of nicotine patches as a therapy for sarcoidosis. Promising results prompted researchers to start a larger trial.

Participants will be randomly assigned to two groups: one that receives nicotine patches and the other a placebo. Patients in both groups will use their patches for approximately seven months.

Participants in the six-month trial will be closely monitored. During the first three weeks, they will receive a phone call and then will be contacted monthly for the duration of the study to monitor for any side effects. Researchers will use CAT scans and advanced computer analysis to measure the effects of nicotine release on sarcoidosis.

“When we examine the data, we hope to find that the nicotine patches help stop or even reverse the growth of sarcoidosis cells,” Crouser said in a press release. “And because nicotine is a stimulant, patients also get a secondary benefit. Extreme fatigue is the most common symptom of sarcoidosis, and the patches help them get through their day with more energy.”

For more information about the trial, including how to participate, please visit this link.