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

Turkey: No Ransom Paid for Release of Hostages Held by IS Militants

President Erdogan hails release of hostages as diplomatic success but declines to be drawn on whether their release freed Ankara's hand to take more active stance against insurgents More

Audio Sierra Leone Official Pleased With Ebola Containment Measure

Official says three-day sensitization effort will help reduce infection rate of Ebola disease nationwide More

US Pivot to Asia Demands Delicate Balancing Act

As the tumult in the Middle East distracts Obama, shifting American focus eastward appears threatened 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.
Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’i
X
Jeff Seldin
September 20, 2014 10:28 PM
Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid