November 11, 2011

New Gene Discovered That Affects Aneurysms

(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Medical scientists have for the first time identified a gene responsible for a fatal abdominal condition that afflicts tens of thousands of people across the world. An international team led by Matt Bown, a vascular surgeon from the University of Leicester, identified a single gene that is linked to the development of abdominal aortic aneurysms, AAAs.

What is more, the team discovered that the gene, LRP1, was not linked to other cardiovascular diseases, suggesting that it is specific to AAA.

An AAA is a swelling of the main blood vessel in the back of the abdomen, which can burst, causing dangerous internal bleeding. The only treatment to prevent this happening is surgery. This is performed when the AAA grows over a certain size, as the risk of the AAA bursting is low when it is small. Unfortunately there is no treatment to prevent small AAAs from growing and despite detecting AAAs by screening, and surgery, many thousands of people still die from burst AAA each year.

"The study involved over 2000 people from Leicestershire as well as many more from around the globe," Bown, senior lecturer in surgery in the Department of Cardiovascular Sciences at the University, was quoted as saying.

Since AAAs often run in families, the research team compared the genes of people with AAAs to those without and discovered that one gene, LRP1, was associated with AAA.

Abdominal aortic aneurysm is an important disease since it commonly affects the older population and can only be treated by surgery. Through this research we have identified a gene that is associated with AAA and the further investigation of the function of this gene in relation to AAA may help us understand more about the disease and how to treat it without resorting to operations.

SOURCE: The American Journal of Human Genetics, November 3, 2011