Gene Variants Can Predict Threat of Heart Disease

A combination of cholesterol-associated gene variants can increase a person's risk for heart attack, stroke or sudden cardiac death, Massachusetts General Hospital researchers report.
It may someday be possible to test for these gene variants in order to identify patients who may require more intense monitoring and might benefit from earlier use of cholesterol-lowering medications and other measures to reduce their increased risk for cardiovascular events, the researchers said.

Gene Variants Can Predict Threat of Heart Disease -

Genetic Medicine Making Inroads Against Disease

The identification of genes that are key to disease is greatly advancing diagnostics and scientific research, one expert said."There has been a big shift in the practice of genomic medicine. When genes are discovered, this translates very quickly into the availability of genetic tests," noted Dr. Maren T. Scheuner of the nonprofit RAND Corporation in Santa Monica, Calif. "Fifteen years ago, there were 100 genes for which tests were available. Today, there are about 1,500 of these genes. Things are really moving rapidly."

Genetic Medicine Making Inroads Against Disease -

New gene-switching method may transform disease treatment

A new way of turning genes on and off, pioneered by a Nobel prize-winning British scientist, is promising to transform treatment of conditions such as HIV/Aids, heart disease and diabetes. Named zinc-finger proteins, after the metal that holds them together and the way in which they grasp DNA. Sangamo BioSciences (SGMO NASDAQ), a company in California, has already developed several drugs based on the principle. The beauty of zinc-finger nucleases lies in their simplicity. Where other methods are long, arduous and often messy, it is relatively easy to switch off genes using this method. The zinc-finger design allows us to target a single gene, while the nuclease disrupts the gene.” Details of the technique are published today in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

How zinc-finger proteins treat illness by aiming at a single gene - Times Online

One Yin of a Discovery: Blood Vessel Protein Reverses Macular Degeneration, Diabetic Retinopathy In Mice

Two major eye diseases and leading causes of blindness—age-related macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy—can be reversed or even prevented by drugs that activate a protein found in blood vessel cells, researchers at the University of Utah School of Medicine and several other institutions have announced in a new study.

Damage from both diseases was prevented and even reversed when the protein, Robo4, was activated in mice models that simulate age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and diabetic retinopathy, according to Dean Y. Li, M.D., Ph.D., senior author of the study published March 16 in Nature Medicine online.

One Yin of a Discovery: Blood Vessel Protein Reverses Macular Degeneration, Diabetic Retinopathy In Mice

Genetic Test Predicts Response to Warfarin

That information already is being put to medical use. Last August, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration changed the labeling to say that doctors should consider a genetic test when first prescribing warfarin, better known by its brand name, Coumadin.

But warfarin is a notoriously difficult drug to manage, especially at the start. Too much can lead to hemorrhages; too little can allow clots to form. One individual may do well on 1.5 milligrams a day, while another may require 20 milligrams daily.

Two genes are known to affect the response to warfarin. One, designated CYP2C9, governs the metabolism of the medication, or how fast it is eliminated from the body. The other, designated VKORC1, governs sensitivity, or how the body reacts to a given dose of warfarin. The new study of 297 people starting warfarin therapy showed that variants of the sensitivity gene should be considered in the first prescription, Stein said.

Genetic Test Predicts Response to Warfarin -

Meteor molecules mirror those on Earth

The work is being published in this week’s Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). The paper is titled, “Molecular asymmetry in extraterrestrial chemistry: Insights from a pristine meteorite,” and is co-authored by Pizzarello and Yongsong Huang and Marcelo Alexandre, of Brown University. When scientists synthesize these molecules in the laboratory, half of a sample turns out to be “left-handed” and the other half “right-handed.” But amino acids, which are the building blocks of terrestrial proteins, are all “left-handed,” while the sugars of DNA and RNA are “right-handed.” The mystery as to why this is the case, “parallels in many of its queries those that surround the origin of life,” said Pizzarello.

Meteor molecules mirror those on Earth ASU News

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