Gene mutations that lower heart risks may help develop new drugs

Last Updated: Thursday, June 19, 2014 - 13:17

Washington: Researchers have shown that people with variation in a gene that inhibits a specific protein in the blood - apolipoprotein C3 - have a significantly lower level of normal blood lipids than people without this gene variation.

Furthermore, the same individuals also have a 41 per cent lower risk of arteriosclerosis.

The research is highly relevant as at least one pharmaceutical company has a drug in the pipeline which inhibits precisely apolipoprotein C3, says Anne Tybjaerg-Hansen, Chief Physician at Rigshospitalet and Clinical Professor at the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen.

The scientific results are based on two of the world's largest population studies, the Copenhagen City Heart Study and the Copenhagen General Population Study, with a total 75,725 participants who were followed for 34 years.

By using genetic studies that mimic medical inhibition of apolipoprotein C3, we have demonstrated that the protein plays an important role in lowering the level of normal blood lipids and thus the risk of cardiovascular disease. People with lifelong hereditary inhibition of the protein have very low blood lipid levels (less than 1 mmol per litre of blood) as well as a significantly reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, says Anne Tybjaerg-Hansen.

The study is published in New England Journal of Medicine.

ANI


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