Genetic studies find five new variants linked to heart disease
29 March 2011
Five new genetic variants linked to heart disease have been identified in a meta- analysis of four large genome-wide association studies, published in Nature Genetics in the first week of March. The findings will guide research into new treatments for coronary heart disease, which kills 88,000 people in Britain each year.
The discoveries add to 11 common variants previously shown to be associated with heart disease, and provide further evidence that many genes have a small but significant effect on heart disease risk.
The Coronary Artery Disease (C4D) Genetics Consortium, co-led by groups at Imperial and the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, compared the DNA sequences of thousands of people with heart disease in European and South Asian populations with controls from the same ethnic groups.
All of the variants linked to heart disease in the study appeared to be equally significant in people from European and South Asian ancestry.
Professor Jaspal Kooner (NHLI), Dr John Chambers and Professor Paul Elliott (both Public Health) co-led the research at Imperial, and determined the contribution of these variants to heart disease amongst South Asians living in the UK.
“These findings add weight to the idea that a large number of genes affect your likelihood of developing heart disease, each gene having a relatively small effect,” Professor Kooner said. “This means that genetic tests are unlikely to be useful for predicting heart disease, but each gene we discover tells us about the biological mechanisms underlying heart disease and gives us a new lead to look for new treatment strategies.”
— Sam Wong, Communications and Development