Study: Mutant genes linked to increase in heart attacks - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Study: Mutant genes linked to increase in heart attacks

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LA JOLLA (CNS) - Mutant genes have been linked to increased risk of heart attacks and aortic aneurysms, researchers at the Scripps Translational Science Institute and area healthcare organizations announced Thursday.

The researchers found eight genetic mutations in an area of chromosome 9, known as 9p21, that are strongly associated with coronary artery disease and other vascular diseases.

"We had been perplexed as to how the specific location of (the) genome has influenced not just heart attacks but abdominal aortic aneurysms and intra-cerebral artery aneurysms - so not just atherosclerosis by any means," said Dr. Eric Topol, who co-authored a paper appearing in the Feb 10 edition of the journal Nature. "Now we know it has to do with inflammation of the artery wall."

Topol said the researchers discovered that the DNA variants affected a gene known as STAT-1, which is involved in causing inflammation.

"The hope is that in the future we can find better ways to control inflammation for patients carrying these sequence variants, which may ultimately reduce their risks of heart attacks," Topol said.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 1 million Americans a year have heart attacks, a complication of coronary artery disease.

The Scripps Genomic Medicine Program at STSI is genotyping tens of thousands of people to identify genes associated with health problems.

Researchers studied the genomes of 50 men of European ancestry. Of the group, 25 samples had genetic risk markers for coronary artery disease, 24 samples had non-risk genetic markers for the disease, and one individual was non-risk with a mixed genetic marker.

Scientists with Rady Children's Hospital and UC San Diego assisted with the study.

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