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
Biofilm discovery suggests new way to prevent dangerous infections
23.05.2017 | University of Texas at Austin
Another reason to exercise: Burning bone fat -- a key to better bone health
19.05.2017 | University of North Carolina Health Care
Staphylococcus aureus is a feared pathogen (MRSA, multi-resistant S. aureus) due to frequent resistances against many antibiotics, especially in hospital infections. Researchers at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut have identified immunological processes that prevent a successful immune response directed against the pathogenic agent. The delivery of bacterial proteins with RNA adjuvant or messenger RNA (mRNA) into immune cells allows the re-direction of the immune response towards an active defense against S. aureus. This could be of significant importance for the development of an effective vaccine. PLOS Pathogens has published these research results online on 25 May 2017.
Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is a bacterium that colonizes by far more than half of the skin and the mucosa of adults, usually without causing infections....
Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.
The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....
An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.
We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...
Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.
Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...
An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...
24.05.2017 | Event News
23.05.2017 | Event News
22.05.2017 | Event News
26.05.2017 | Life Sciences
26.05.2017 | Life Sciences
26.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy