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Genes linked to cholesterol found

95 genetic links to cholesterol found Raises hope of heart test

Scientists have found 95 new genes linked with high cholesterol, which paves the way for a blood test that could predict who is at risk of developing heart disease.

People with high levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or 'bad' cholesterol, in their blood are at greater risk of heart disease, heart attacks and stroke.

High cholesterol levels create fatty deposits inside arteries that can trigger problems by breaking off and blocking blood flow.

Now experts say this latest study shows for the first time that it is possible to predict who is likely to develop high cholesterol using a genetic test.

The findings may also lead to new cholesterol-lowering drugs that could help people at risk of heart disease.

An international team of scientists, including researchers at Edinburgh University, analysed the DNA of 100,000 volunteers to pinpoint which genes might be involved in controlling cholesterol.

They identified 95 genes that had an effect, of which 59 weren’t previously known to be involved in cholesterol biology.

People carrying many variations in these genes are 14 times more likely to have very high cholesterol than people without them.

Dr Jim Wilson, a Royal Society University Research Fellow at the University of Edinburgh, who worked on the study, said: “Apart from highlighting a number of new potential drug targets, this landmark study is the first to show that we can predict from our genes who is likely to have very high cholesterol levels.

"As genes are present from birth, this would allow those at high risk to modify their lifestyle before the effects of high cholesterol damage their heart.”

Heart disease is the biggest killer in the the UK, causing one-in-four male and one-in-six female deaths.

The findings are published in the journal Nature.

This article was published on Thu 5 August 2010



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