In a serendipitous spin-off of HIV/AIDS research, scientists at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and colleagues have found strong evidence that a genetic variation affecting immune system cells protects against heart disease. Details of the work, which also provides further evidence for the role of inflammation in heart disease, will appear in the April 15 issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation.
"This work demonstrates how NIAIDs commitment to HIV/AIDS research can provide insights into the mechanisms of other diseases," says NIAID director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D. "The money spent on this research, so important to the millions of people around the world infected with HIV, also results in wider ranging benefits."
"The genetic variation we studied has a positive and protective effect against atherosclerosis. This effect is similar in magnitude, though opposite in value, to known negative risk factors such as diabetes and smoking. In other words, as bad as the negative risk factors are bad, this factor is good," says senior study author Philip M. Murphy, M.D. "In addition, the study may help explain part of the hereditary component of heart disease, establishing not only a genetic association but also giving evidence for a biological cause."
Jeff Minerd | EurekAlert!
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