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22 new stroke risk genes identified

Tuesday March 13th, 2018

An international team of researchers has identified 22 new genetic risk factors for stroke, tripling the number of genes linked to the condition.

The MEGASTROKE study examined the DNA of more than 520,000 people from around the world and compared the genes of those who had suffered different types of strokes with healthy volunteers.

Writing in the latest edition of Nature Genetics, the researchers - from more than 20 countries - say that about one third of the newly discovered genetic variants are thought to increase stroke risk by increasing blood pressure. The remainder appear to increase the risk of a stroke in new ways.

They found that one specific gene increased risk of haemorrhagic stroke and ischaemic stroke – suggesting routes for new drugs to help reduce the risk of these common types of stroke.

Professor Sir Nilesh Samani, medical director at the British Heart Foundation, which part-funded the study, said: “By helping us to better understand what causes a stroke and those who are at higher genetic risk, this research will help us to prevent them occurring and develop desperately-needed new treatments. Ultimately, this could save lives.

“Although some exciting new developments have been made in treating strokes, such as clot bursting treatments and clot retrieval devices, the options at our disposal for treating and preventing strokes are still far too limited. New treatments are long overdue and these results give us new hope.”

Study co-author Dr Joanna Howson, at the University of Cambridge, said: "We have identified over 20 genes that cause stroke, highlighting biological processes that are shared between stroke and other vascular conditions, such as raised blood pressure, coronary heart disease and venous thrombosis. We hope in the future identification of these genes, will help lead to the development of drugs to prevent strokes."

Nature Genetics 12 March 2018

Tags: Brain & Neurology | Genetics | Heart Health | UK News

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