Subscribe to the BioNews newsletter for free

Login
Advanced Search

Search for
BioNews

Like the Progress Educational Trust on Facebook


The Fertility Show


 

Gene clues to cholesterol levels

23 June 2008

By Dr Jess Buxton

Appeared in BioNews 463

A third of people have genetic variations that cut their risk of heart disease, perhaps by increasing the level of 'good' (HDL) cholesterol in their blood, say UK and Dutch scientists. A new study, published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, shows that individuals with particular versions of the CETP (Cholesteryl Ester Transfer Protein) gene have a five per cent lower risk of having a heart attack.

The researchers combined the results of almost 100 other studies, involving a total of 147,000 people. They looked at six different versions of the CETP gene, and found that the three most common were associated with both a 3-5 per cent rise in the levels of HDL cholesterol and a lower risk of heart disease. High levels of LDL ('bad') cholesterol increase the risk of a heart attack or stroke, as it can build up in the arteries that feed the heart and brain, making them narrower. In contrast, higher levels of HDL cholesterol seem to protect against these conditions, possibly because it is the form in which cholesterol is carried away from the arteries and back to the liver.

The team, based at the universities of Cambridge, Newcastle and Groningen, hope that their findings will lead to new treatments aimed at preventing heart disease, perhaps in the form of drugs that target the CETP gene in order to raise HDL cholesterol levels. Current medicines offered to people at increased risk of heart attacks, such as statins, work by lowering levels of LDL cholesterol. But as Professor Peter Weissberg, of the British Heart Foundation, pointed out, researchers are now questioning 'whether approaches that raise HDL cholesterol could further prevent heart disease'.

Meanwhile, a new study by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine have identified variations in a gene that affect the risk of 'metabolic syndrome', a collection of symptoms that can increase the risk of both Type 2 diabetes and heart disease. The findings, reported in the journal Human Molecular Genetics, show that five versions of the CD36 gene seem to increase the likelihood of these symptoms appearing, while a sixth has a protective effect. Like the CETP gene, CD36 appears to affect levels of HDL cholesterol in the body.


Dr Jess Buxton is Contributing Editor at BioNews and a Trustee at the charity that publishes it, the Progress Educational Trust (PET). She is co-author of The Rough Guide to Genes and Cloning (buy this book from Amazon UK) and Human Fertilisation and Embryology: Reproducing Regulation (buy this book from Amazon UK).

SOURCES & REFERENCES
BBC News Online | 18 June 2008
 
ScienceDaily | 19 June 2008
 

RELATED ARTICLES FROM THE BIONEWS ARCHIVE

15 October 2012 - by Maria Sheppard 
Twenty-one genes linked with cholesterol and other fat levels in the blood have been identified by a consortium of over 180 researchers worldwide....
16 August 2010 - by Chris Chatterton 
Two new studies published in Nature have found...
28 September 2009 - by Dr Aarathi Prasad 
A new NHS-funded study will test patients for genes that may play a key role in side-effects related to statin use....
16 December 2008 - by Dr Rebecca Robey 
Scientists have identified a rare gene variant that protects against cardiovascular disease. A research team at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, Maryland, US, found that carriers of an unusual form of a gene called APOC3 had reduced levels of harmful fat particles in their blood...

21 January 2008 - by Ailsa Stevens 
By Ailsa Taylor: A team of British researchers have identified a common genetic variation that can increase the risk of high cholesterol. The study, published in the American Journal of Human Genetics, may help to explain why the same gene has previously been linked with increased chance of heart disease...
23 July 2007 - by Ailsa Stevens 
A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine last week reported the discovery of six single letter gene changes - so-called genetic variants - linked to significantly increased risk of heart disease: the UK's biggest killer. The study - part of the multimillion pound Welcome Trust Case Control...
09 May 2007 - by Dr Jess Buxton 
US and Canadian researchers have identified a common genetic variation that can increase the risk of heart disease by up to 40 per cent. The study, published early online in the journal Science, suggests that two genes involved in controlling cell growth, aging and death could...
19 March 2007 - by Dr Laura Bell 
Recent research published in the Archives of Internal Medicine suggests that middle aged people who have parents of which at least one lives to be 85 or more, have a lower risk of heart disease. The research used data from the Framingham Heart Study (FHS), which...
29 March 2006 - by BioNews 
US, Canadian and German researchers have used a novel gene therapy approach to reduce blood cholesterol levels in monkeys by more than 60 per cent. The research, published in the journal Nature, uses a technique called RNA interference (RNAi). The scientists - based at biotech firms Alnylam Pharmaceuticals and Protiva BioTherapeutics...

HAVE YOUR SAY
Be the first to have your say.

You need to or  to add comments.

By posting a comment you agree to abide by the BioNews terms and conditions


- click here to enquire about using this story.

Published by the Progress Educational Trust

CROSSING FRONTIERS

Moving the Boundaries of Human Reproduction

Public Conference
London
8 December 2017

Speakers include

Professor Azim Surani

Professor Magdalena Zernicka-Goetz

Professor Robin Lovell-Badge

Sally Cheshire

Professor Guido Pennings

Katherine Littler

Professor Allan Pacey

Dr Sue Avery

Professor Richard Anderson

Dr Elizabeth Garner

Dr Jacques Cohen

Dr Anna Smajdor

Dr Andy Greenfield

Vivienne Parry

Dr Helen O'Neill

Dr César Palacios-González

Philippa Taylor

Fiona Fox

Sarah Norcross


BOOK HERE

Good Fundraising Code

Become a Friend of PET HERE and give the Progress Educational Trust a regular donation