Leicester-led research reveals genetic links to heart disease

Posted by mjs76 at Mar 06, 2011 06:05 PM |
The British Heart Foundation has announced 17 new genetic variants that could increase your risk of developing heart disease, and a good proportion of those were discovered by scientists at the University of Leicester.

Professor Nilesh Samani is British Heart Foundation Professor of Cardiology at the University and co-leads an international research programme called CARDIoGRAM - which rather tortuously stands for Coronary ARtery DIsease Genome-Wide Replication And Meta-Analysis

As part of the CARDIoGRAM project, Professor Samani and his colleagues recently made in-depth analyses of the DNA of more than 140,000 people across Europe and South Asia, more than 50,000 of whom had coronary heart disease. The researchers assessed their genetic codes to search for variations in DNA that are more likely to be found in people with the disease, which is the main cause of heart attacks.

In Nature Genetics today they reveal 13 new genes that are linked with increased risk of heart attacks. Together with the Coronary Artery Disease (C4D) Genetics Consortium, who also announced their discoveries today, there are now a total of 17 new genes linked to heart attacks and strokes. That’s double what we had before!

However, this doesn’t mean we’re closer to using genetics to predict who is more at risk of coronary heart disease. If anything, these studies have shown that it might not be as simple as that. But studying these new genes will vastly improve our knowledge of how coronary heart disease develops, and could ultimately help to develop new treatments.

The study has also shown the benefits of international collaboration in tackling major research questions of this type. The CARDIoGRAM and C4D consortia, which were both funded by the British Heart Foundation, are now collaborating on further work and have already found evidence to suggest that their combined data will find more genetic links to heart disease.