May 11, 2006

Scientists find genes linked to heart attack risk

BOSTON (Reuters) - A study covering more than 2,000
patients has identified two genes that are associated with an
increased risk of an early heart attack, researchers said on

Those with the genes had twice the risk of an early-onset
heart attack as those without, according to the researchers
from the University of California, San Francisco; Cleveland
Clinic; Case Western Reserve University; Brigham Young
University; and Celera Genomics, which partly funded the

The research linked one form of a gene known as VAMP8 to
the early stages of blood-clot formation, which, when formed in
the heart, can block oxygen and lead to a heart attack.

Another gene, HNRPUL1 was also found to be strongly
associated with heart attack risk, although the nature of the
connection was less clear.

Dr. John Kane, professor of medicine at University of
California and co-author of the study, said the relatively
large scale of the trial reduced the risk that the findings
were the result of chance and potentially sets the stage for a
diagnostic test that can predict which people are at greatest
risk for a heart attack.

"A number of studies have identified genes linked to
increased heart attack risk, but many of the studies have been
so small that there has been a high risk of false positives,"
he said.

The aim of the research is to identify genetic differences
that can predict for heart disease, create a screening
diagnostic, and perhaps begin developing new drugs, Kane said.