New heart attack genes discovered

Scientists have discovered two new genes which are associated with a person’s risk of coronary heart disease in an international collaboration involving BHF and NIHR-funded researchers. The findings could lead to new statin-like treatments to prevent heart attacks.

The researchers looked at the DNA of more than 190,000 people. This included those collected part of the BHF Family Heart Study, which was led by BHF Sir Professor Nilesh Samani, head of the Department of Cardiovascular Sciences, and retired BHF Professor Stephen Ball, between 2000 and 2005.

The researchers found that changes in the DNA which altered a gene called ANGPTL4 were associated with a reduced risk of coronary heart disease (CHD), while errors in the SVEP1 gene were linked to an increased risk of CHD. CHD is responsible for nearly 70,000 deaths every year, making it the UK’s single biggest killer. Most deaths from CHD are caused by a heart attack.

The research was a collaboration between BHF-funded researchers at University of Leicester, also supported by the NIHR, and principal researchers at the Broad Institute at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Technical University of Munich and University of Lubeck in Germany, Queen Mary University London and University of Cambridge, and several others.

Professor Samani said: "Going forward we hope that we will be able to use this new information to develop new therapies to reduce a person’s likelihood of developing coronary heart disease and, ultimately, of having a heart attack."