10 genes linked with sudden cardiac death identified

March 23rd, 2009 - 12:39 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Mar 23 (ANI): Scientists, co-led by an Indian-origin researcher, have identified 10 genes associated with sudden cardiac death (SCD), which is usually caused by irregular heart rhythms.

Goncalo Abecasis, associate professor of Biostatistics at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, says that scientists are now closer to understanding what causes SCD and who may be its victim.

Abecasis co-led the study with Aravinda Chakravarti of Johns Hopkins to identify genetic defects associated with sudden cardiac death.

The researchers identified 10 genes associated with changes in the so-called QT interval duration, which measures the length of time the heart takes to contract.

A QT interval that’’s too long or too short can cause serious problems, including arrhythmias and sudden cardiac death.

The QT interval can be seen on an electrocardiogram monitor it’’s a certain portion of the line that waves or spikes up and down when the heart contracts.

Abecasis said that the genes were interesting for several other reasons.

He said that changes in the QT interval were one of the common side effects that made pharmaceutical companies to cancel new drugs that are under development.

The discovery could help identify individuals at risk of complication, and can eventually help the industry develop drugs that avoid that complication altogether.

Abecasis said that the genes also confirmed existing medical theory.

A number of the 10 genes help regulate human potassium channels in the heart muscle, which confirms that idea that the balance of sodium and potassium moving in and out of the heart muscle is important.

Abecasis said: “There’’s a couple where we don”t really now what they do, so we”re hoping maybe they will give us an interesting lead into other things.

The researcher added: “Each gene we identified can produce a small alteration in the QT interval. Individuals with too many genes predisposing to a long or short QT interval are likely to be most at risk of sudden cardiac death.” (ANI)

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