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Gene Holds Clues to Heart Disease

Variants of GATA2 could help explain familial risk, study shows

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 30, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- Variations in a gene that acts as a "switch" to turn on other genes could boost the risk of heart disease, an international study finds.

Scientists said that further study of the gene, called GATA2, and the genes it controls may reveal a regulatory network driving who inherits coronary artery disease. The research could lead to the development of genetic tests for the disease.

"We hope that one day it will be possible to use these gene variations to predict who is susceptible to cardiovascular disease. This finding is the first step before we can develop such a test for use in patients," study author Jessica J. Connelly, a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Human Genetics at Duke University Medical Center, said in a prepared statement.

Connelly's team analyzed DNA from 3,000 people with a familial history of coronary artery disease. The findings were published in the August issue of the journal Public Library of Science (PLoS) Genetics.

Coronary artery disease -- which occurs when the arteries supplying blood to the heart become narrowed or clogged with plaque -- is the most common form of heart disease in the Western world. It affects more than 13 million Americans and is one of leading causes of death in the United States.

People at high risk for coronary artery disease are instructed to avoid behaviors, such as smoking or consuming foods high in saturated fats, that promote heart disease.

More information

The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has more about coronary artery disease.

SOURCE: Duke University Medical Center, news release, Aug. 24, 2006
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