For the researchers, this is an important first of many steps toward developing highly individualized approaches to identifying and treating atherosclerosis that are tailored to and informed by a patient's unique genetic make-up.
Atherosclerosis is a disorder marked by the thickening and clogging of blood vessels, which over time can deprive the heart of necessary oxygen and nutrients. While factors such as diet, smoking, cholesterol levels and inactivity are important in the development of atherosclerosis, the researchers said that heredity plays a crucial role in how the body responds to these environmental factors.
"Instead of trying to find a specific gene that might be implicated in the development atherosclerosis, we took the novel approach of trying identify clusters of genes that may help us better understand the progression of the disease," said Duke cardiologist David Seo, M.D. The results of the Duke research are scheduled to appear in the October 2004 issue of the journal Arteriorsclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology and are published early on-line at http://atvb.ahajournals.org.
"In a complex disorder like atherosclerosis, it is not likely that only one gene is involved, but many different ones that interact with each other," said Seo.
Specifically, the researchers found that their new model could predict with 93.5 percent accuracy the extent of atherosclerosis. It could also predict with 93.6 percent accuracy the location of atherosclerotic lesions.
"This study is the foundation of future research and was absolutely critical study in demonstrating that we can indeed ref
Contact: Richard Merritt
Duke University Medical Center