Duke University Medical Center researchers have identified specific clusters of genes within human aortas that appear to predict with great specificity which patients may be at highest risk for developing atherosclerosis, as well as the severity of the disease.
For the researchers, this is an important first of many steps toward developing highly individualized approaches to identifying and treating atherosclerosis that are tailored to and informed by a patients unique genetic make-up.
Atherosclerosis is a disorder marked by the thickening and clogging of blood vessels, which over time can deprive the heart of necessary oxygen and nutrients. While factors such as diet, smoking, cholesterol levels and inactivity are important in the development of atherosclerosis, the researchers said that heredity plays a crucial role in how the body responds to these environmental factors. "Instead of trying to find a specific gene that might be implicated in the development atherosclerosis, we took the novel approach of trying identify clusters of genes that may help us better understand the progression of the disease," said Duke cardiologist David Seo, M.D. The results of the Duke research are scheduled to appear in the October 2004 issue of the journal Arteriorsclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology and are published early on-line at http://atvb.ahajournals.org. "In a complex disorder like atherosclerosis, it is not likely that only one gene is involved, but many different ones that interact with each other," said Seo.
Richard Merritt | EurekAlert!
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