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
Study suggests possible new target for treating and preventing Alzheimer's
02.12.2016 | Oregon Health & Science University
The first analysis of Ewing's sarcoma methyloma opens doors to new treatments
01.12.2016 | IDIBELL-Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water
In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...
The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.
Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering
02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science
02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy