Devin Absher participates in largest ever meta-analysis of the disease
Huntsville, Ala. – Coronary artery disease decreases blood flow to the heart muscle and causes an estimated 2500 deaths in the U.S. every day. In a paper recently published in Nature Genetics, scientists representing 118 institutions in both the U.S. and Europe pooled thousands of patient samples to analyze the human genome with enough power to find 13 new genetic variations associated with CAD and confirm 10 variants previously reported. HudsonAlpha faculty investigator Dr. Devin Absher contributed to both the genotyping and analysis of the data, leading to the novel findings.
The consortium – CARDIoGRAM (Coronary ARtery DIsease Genome wide Replication and Meta-analysis) – analyzed previous studies of the genetics of CAD that had determined 30 to 60 percent of an individual’s risk of developing CAD comes from his or her own genetic code. Research on CAD in the last few years has yielded the locations of a few common variations in people that clearly contribute to CAD, explaining a fraction of the genetic contribution to the disease.
The newly reported genetic associations with CAD are important because a number occur in regions of the genome that have not been previously linked to the disease. This means that scientists now have new pathways to investigate for potential therapeutics for CAD. In addition, the variations themselves could be used in the future to assist in predicting a person’s risk of CAD. By pooling the now 23 reported variations, researchers may produce a risk score comparable to other traditional risk factors for CAD such as smoking, diabetes and hypertension.
The HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology in Huntsville, Alabama, is the cornerstone of the Cummings Research Park Biotechnology Campus. The campus hosts a synergistic cluster of life sciences talent – science, education and business professionals – that promises collaborative innovation to turn knowledge and ideas into commercial products and services for improving human health and strengthening Alabama’s progressively diverse economy. The non-profit institute is housed in a state-of-the-art, 270,000 square-ft. facility strategically located in the nation’s second largest research park. HudsonAlpha has a three-fold mission of genomic research, economic development and educational outreach.