NIH Genomic Mapping Study Finds Largest Set of Genes Related to Major Risk Factor for Heart Disease
Scanning the genomes of more than 100,000 people from all over the world, scientists report the largest set of genes discovered underlying high cholesterol and high triglycerides — the major risk factors for coronary heart disease, the nation’s number one killer. Taken together, the gene variants explain between a quarter and a third of the inherited portions of cholesterol and triglyceride measured in the blood.
Akinso: By scanning the genomes of more than 100,000 people all over the world, scientists have found the largest set of genes related to a major risk factor for heart disease according to a NIH study.
O'Donnell: Scientist reported the largest set of genes discovered to date that underlie high cholesterol and triglycerides, which are major risk for heart attacks and strokes.
Akinso: Dr. Christopher O'Donnell is the associate director of the Framingham Heart Study and senior advisor for Genomics to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute's Acting Director.
O’Donnell: The research team found approximately 95 genetic variants or sign post in the DNA—so-called miss spellings in the DNA code, which contributes to changes in blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels in men and women of many ethnic backgrounds. And abnormal levels of blood cholesterol and triglycerides are powerful risk factors for heart disease. Of these genetic variants 59 have not been known previously and thus provide new clues for developing effective treatments to combat heart disease.
Akinso: The Genome-wide association studies or GWAS, analyze DNA across populations to pinpoint hard-to-find genetic hotspots for common diseases that are thought to have many causes, both genetic and environmental. Dr. O'Donnell says the findings of GWAS provide clues to better understand causes for heart disease and stroke.
O'Donnell: The findings of this study point us to specific genetic signposts that allow us to understand more fully why many people from all walks of life have abnormal levels of cholesterol and other blood lipids that lead to heart disease. What's really exciting about this work is that we are moving now from discovery to understanding brand new information about how genes alter the lipids that contribute to heart disease.
Akinso: Dr. O’Donnell adds that these results help refine their course for preventing and treating heart disease. For more information, visit, www.nhlbi.nih.gov. This is Wally Akinso at the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland.
About This Audio Report
Reporter: Wally Akinso
Sound Bite: Dr. Christopher O'Donnell
Topic: Genes, Heart Disease, Strokes