The direction of this research could not be much newer. It relies upon findings of the Human Genome Project, which has isolated and sequenced, among others, various genes that could be implicated in stroke.
"From genetic studies, we can now say that we know of a number of genes with a role in ischaemia in the brain," said Dr Jannes, from the Department of Medicine, Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
"The situation is complicated because of polymorphism; subtle variations in these genes among different members of the population," said Dr Jannes. "From the Genome Project we now have genetic code to study these genes in stroke victims, and determine whether any of the variations are associated with higher risk of stroke."
Some 20 years worth of study of the pathology of stroke have isolated many physiological factors that are implicated in its onset. They include the bloods clotting process, the condition of blood vessels and the presence of various proteins. The researchers have selected eight genes whose effects are largely known. Seven of them are involved in blood clotting, and one plays a role in fat metabolism. All are implicated in cardiovascular disease; another pointer to their possible implication in stroke.
"We are very excited about this study," said Dr Koblar. "Not only is it a national first, but there is no multiple gene analysis study so far published in the world, though we are sure this will be the way of future research in this field," he said.
According to Dr Jannes, the genetic analysis will use a novel molecular strategy developed by collaborators at the Australian Red Cross. It will allow 100 patients to be screened for a polymorphism in a matter of a couple of hours. "Being able to genetically screen rapidly and reliably is ess
Contact: Dr. Jim Jannes