Cardiac arrhythmia is a frequent occurrence: according to the WHO, 33.5 million people all over the world are affected by atrial fibrillation - this being just one of many different kinds of arrhythmia.
A global research consortium, of which the EURAC Center for Biomedicine in Bozen-Bolzano is a member, has now identified 23 new genes which control both the heart rhythm and the length of the so-called QT interval. The study was further enhanced by data provided by participants from South Tyrol. The results, which open up new pathways for early diagnosis and treatment, have just been published in the medical journal “Nature Genetics”.
The QT interval is part of the heart’s electrical cycle as measured by ECG, and represents the electrical depolarization and repolarization of the ventricles. Lengthened intervals indicate dysfunction in the heart beat and are liable to lead to a five-fold increase in the risk of sudden death from heart failure. The underlying causes for such irregularities have not yet been fully explored. They are generally supposed to be due mainly to genetic factors.
In collaboration with research partners recruited from an international consortium, scientists from the EURAC Center for Biomedicine have evaluated the ECG results of over 100,000 study participants from Germany, Italy and the USA, as well as around 1,300 from South Tyrol who made their data freely available to the EURAC researchers. The scientists compared the QT intervals from the ECGs of all the study participants with their genetic variants in order to identify possible connections.
The result: they discovered 23 new genes which are linked to a lengthened QT interval. At the same time, they were able to demonstrate that the newly identified genes, which previously had not been thought to play a part in the heart rhythm, had a significant influence on the electrical activity of the heart muscle. In more in-depth studies with heart disease patients, the researchers could additionally determine that two of the newly identified genes were indeed risk factors for the disease known as “Long QT syndrome”.
“We still need to look more closely at the interplay of these genes with other risk factors, such as medication or life style. But one thing is certain: these findings have definitely brought us a great deal closer to recognising the causes of arrhythmia and sudden death from heart failure,” stress the two scientists Peter Pramstaller, manager of the EURAC Center for Biomedicine and his deputy, Andrew Hicks.
“With data from more than 100,000 participants in the study and the joint efforts of hundreds of international researchers, this represents one of the biggest global research projects on this topic to which we were able to contribute through both our scientific expertise as well as making data available from South Tyrol participants,” summarise Pramstaller and Hicks.
Another current study carried out by the EURAC Center for Biomedicine will provide further important insights into arrhythmia and sudden death from heart failure. Here, researchers are examining a protein, also identified in the QT study, which transports calcium within the cells in a pump-like action and can therefore be considered one of the most important proteins for a correctly functioning heart cell.
http://www.nature.com/ng/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/ng.3014.html - Article "Nature Genetics"
Laura Defranceschi | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft
ARTORG and Inselspital develop artificial pancreas
26.11.2015 | Universitätsspital Bern
Laboratory study: Scientists from Cologne explore a new approach to prevent newborn epilepsies
24.11.2015 | Deutsches Zentrum für Neurodegenerative Erkrankungen e.V. (DZNE)
Planet Earth experienced a global climate shift in the late 1980s on an unprecedented scale, fuelled by anthropogenic warming and a volcanic eruption, according to new research published this week.
Scientists say that a major step change, or ‘regime shift’, in the Earth’s biophysical systems, from the upper atmosphere to the depths of the ocean and from...
The Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE has installed 70 photovoltaic modules on the outer façade of one of its lab buildings. The modules were...
Nerve cells cover their high energy demand with glucose and lactate. Scientists of the University of Zurich now provide new support for this. They show for the first time in the intact mouse brain evidence for an exchange of lactate between different brain cells. With this study they were able to confirm a 20-year old hypothesis.
In comparison to other organs, the human brain has the highest energy requirements. The supply of energy for nerve cells and the particular role of lactic acid...
In laser material processing, the simulation of processes has made great strides over the past few years. Today, the software can predict relatively well what will happen on the workpiece. Unfortunately, it is also highly complex and requires a lot of computing time. Thanks to clever simplification, experts from Fraunhofer ILT are now able to offer the first-ever simulation software that calculates processes in real time and also runs on tablet computers and smartphones. The fast software enables users to do without expensive experiments and to find optimum process parameters even more effectively.
Before now, the reliable simulation of laser processes was a job for experts. Armed with sophisticated software packages and after many hours on computer...
Researchers at Heidelberg University have devised a new way to study the phenomenon of magnetism. Using ultracold atoms at near absolute zero, they prepared a...
25.11.2015 | Event News
17.11.2015 | Event News
21.10.2015 | Event News
27.11.2015 | Press release
27.11.2015 | Life Sciences
27.11.2015 | Materials Sciences