The sample group included 206 individuals with heart disease and 206 control cases aged 45-74. Using stored blood samples, the researchers looked at haptoglobin, a blood protein found in three different forms: 2-2, 1-1 and 2-1. Individuals with the 2-2 form were five times more likely to have heart disease than those with the 1-1 form. An intermediate risk was associated with those with the 2-1 form.
"This is an entirely novel and new idea that will certainly attract attention from many clinical investigators and scientists worldwide," said Dr. Myron L. Weisfeldt, Director, Department of Medicine at The Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions.
The ability of this genetic test to predict the risk of heart disease in diabetic patients regardless of ethnicity is strengthened by recently reported findings by Dr. Levy and colleagues from Germany. In that study, presented at the American Heart Association meetings in Chicago on November 19th, 935 patients with diabetes were followed after angioplasty. Individuals with the benign form of the gene were dramatically protected from suffering a heart attack or needing repeat angioplasty.
The current study also builds on previous work by Dr. Levy which reported on the association of the haptoglobin gene and other complications of diabetes such as kidney and eye damage. Articles detailing these findings were published in the New England Journal of Medicine and the Journal of the American Medical Association in September 2000. HaptoGuard, Inc., a company utilizing the technology developed by Dr. Levy's research, hopes to build on these findings to improve management of the disease.
Contact: Efrem Epstein
American Society for Technion - Israel Institute of Technology