News / Health

Broken Gene Appears to Protect Against Heart Disease

Study Links Mutations to APOC3 Gene with Dramatically Lower Risk for Heart Attack
Study Links Mutations to APOC3 Gene with Dramatically Lower Risk for Heart Attack
Jessica Berman
Researchers have discovered that mutations to a particular gene can dramatically lower the risk for heart attack. Scientists are now trying to develop drugs that target the gene in the hopes of bringing down the high rate of heart disease.

Two papers published this week in the New England Journal of Medicine identify a gene called APOC3 in connection with the body's removal of triglycerides, a type of blood fat. Circulating triglycerides, if not eliminated from the body, stick to blood vessels and are stored in tissues in the hips and belly.

When elevated, triglycerides, or lipids, are thought to be a risk factor for heart disease. Approximately one in 150 people has mutations to the APOC3 gene that keep their triglyceride levels low, according to the findings of a new study.

A large investigation of 110,000 patient blood samples found those with the rare mutations had lower levels of triglyceride fats and a significantly reduced risk for the most common form of heart disease.

“We compared the heart attack rates of people who carried the mutations and those who didn’t, and found that people who carried the mutations and had the lower triglycerides had 40 percent lower risk for heart attack,” said Sekar Kathiresan, director of Preventive Cardiology at Massachusetts General Hospital and an associate researcher at the Broad Institute of Biomedical Research.

Kathiresan helped lead the study that identified four beneficial genetic mutations to the APOC3 protein.  

The connection with elevated LDL - a blood fat commonly called bad cholesterol - and heart disease is well-known. Experts know less about the benefits of raising HDL, or a blood lipid called good cholesterol, as a hedge against heart attack, and the role triglycerides levels play in coronary artery disease.

The latest study of thousands of research subjects found elevated levels of good cholesterol were not protective, while low triglyceride levels appear to be.

With discovery of the four mutations, researchers now have a target to develop a drug to lower blood lipids, reducing the risk of heart attack.

“Given that these people are naturally protected, if you develop a medicine that mimics this, then your chances of it working in terms of reducing the risk of heart attack are quite great,” Kathiresan said.

Many people still have elevated triglycerides despite exercising, eating a low fat, low carbohydrate diet and taking statin drugs. An agent that targets APOC3 may further reduce blood fats, lowering the risk of heart attack, he said.

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs