An Indian-origin researcher Nilesh Samani and his team of scientists have created a new tool that can calculate the genetic risk score of people likely to develop coronary heart disease, identifying the problem much earlier and improving its prevention. This advance genetic tool, if successful may pave way for early and personalised preventive interventions. The study from University of Leicester in the UK is the first to look at a much larger number of SNPs to give a fuller picture of an individual's genetic risk of developing coronary heart disease (CHD).
Importantly, the genetic factors are considered to make a significant contribution to the CHD risk. It is among the leading cause of death for both men and women, globally. Also, some risk factors put one at greater risk of CHD and heart attack than others. Upon identification, one may control several risk factors, which may help prevent or delay CHD.
Recent advances in genetics have led to the identification of many Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs) - very small differences in the DNA that vary from person to person. By looking at over 49,000 SNPs, researchers created a score, known as a genomic risk score (GRS) and showed that the higher the GRS the higher the future risk of CHD. As per the study, people with a GRS in the top 20% had an over 5-fold higher life-time risk of CHD than those in the bottom 20%.
"This is the first really large study showing the potential benefits of using a genetic risk score over and above current methods to identify people at increased risk of coronary heart disease," said Nilesh Samani from the University of Leicester. “This study shows the potential benefits of using a genetic risk score over and above current methods to identify people at increased risk of coronary heart disease. We already know that CHD starts at an early age, several decades before symptoms develop, and preventative measures should ideally be applied much earlier, especially to those who are at increased risk,” Nilesh added.
The research was published in the European Heart Journal.