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International consortium to get to heart of coronary artery disease

An international consortium has been launched to tackle coronary artery disease using the latest scientific tools. Funded by the European Commission, the initiative will build on recent advances in genomic science and the understanding of our genes to develop effective strategies for preventing and treating the disease.

Coronary artery disease (CAD) is the most common form of heart disease in Europe and the US. It is caused by a narrowing of the arteries due to deposits of fat and cholesterol, preventing enough blood reaching the heart. Symptoms include chest pain, shortness of breath and numbness in the arms and shoulders, and the disease can lead to heart attack.

However, whilst scientists know that high fat and high cholesterol diets play a significant role in the disease, they do not understand fully what makes some people more susceptible to the disease than others. They believe that many factors contribute, both environmental and genetic.

"Coronary artery disease is a major health issue in the Western world and we want to get to the root of what causes it," says Professor Dominique Gauguier from the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics at the University of Oxford. "It is a complex disease, so it's impossible to say 'We've found the gene for CAD'. Rather, it is caused by a number of factors, including the interaction of genes with other genes and with the environment."

Professor Gauguier, a Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellow, is leading an international consortium, known as Functional Genomic Diagnostic Tools for Coronary Artery Disease (FGENTCARD). The project, which has received 3 million over 3 years from the European Commission, involves academic and industrial scientists from the UK, France, Denmark and Lebanon.

The consortium will use the latest technologies for analysing DNA to identify those at risk from CAD. These include functional genomics, taking a sequence of the genome and analysing the
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Contact: Craig Brierley
c.brierley@wellcome.ac.uk
44-207-611-7329
Wellcome Trust
7-Feb-2007


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