Biomedical Research Unit involved in research that has identified a new mechanism leading to heart attacks

Posted by cp273 at Dec 04, 2013 09:40 AM |

Nilesh Samani, BHF Professor of Cardiology and Director of the NIHR Leicester Cardiovascular Biomedical Research Unit is an author on a paper published in Nature which describes a new mechanism that can cause heart attacks. By investigating a unique German family where heart attacks had occurred at a young age in several family members, the researchers identified mutations in two genes (GUCY1A3 and CCT7) that impair signalling by nitric oxide and increase the risk of a heart attack through increased thrombus (blood clot) formation. Interestingly, in earlier research published in Nature Genetics, (Deloukas P et al. 2013), Professor Samani and colleagues had shown that a common variant in one of the genes, GUCY1A3, that is carried by up to 80% of the population, is also associated with a modestly higher risk of heart attacks. In additional studies, the researchers showed that GUCY1A3 and CCT7 impair nitric oxide production by affecting the activity of an enzyme in platelets and other cells called soluble guanylate cyclase. Stimulators of this enzyme that are safe in humans are already known, suggesting that these drugs may provide a new way of reducing the risk of heart attacks.

Professor Samani said, "This research is important for several reasons. It demonstrates that rare families afflicted with a particular disease can provide important insights into a common disease and we are very grateful that such families are willing to participate in research. It also shows the power of genetics to identify new disease mechanisms that could lead to new and widely applicable treatments. This is precisely one of the objectives of the BRU".

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