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Blood Cell Genes May Signal Heart Disease
Date:10/8/2008

Small study finds their levels correlate with cardiovascular trouble

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 8 (HealthDay News) -- A test that measures the activity of genes in white blood cells might someday help doctors determine the proper treatment when someone complains of chest pain, researchers report.

The finding is interesting in part because of where it appears -- the first issue of a new American Heart Association journal, Circulation: Cardiovascular Genetics.

The journal, which will appear every two months, is needed "because the completion of the Human Genome Project has meant a rapid acceleration of our knowledge of what genes do, and how they are related to various diseases," said Dr. Ramachandran S. Vasan, a professor of medicine at Boston University School of Medicine who is the journal's editor.

"We have found a set of genes in white blood cells whose level of expression correlates with obstructive coronary artery disease," said Steven Rosenberg, chief scientific officer of CardioDx, a California biotechnology company.

Those genes were identified in a study of 41 people undergoing catheterization, a procedure used to determine whether chest pains are caused by blockage of a heart artery. "The set of genes we were looking at were upregulated in the presence of obstructive coronary artery disease," Rosenberg said.

The goal is a blood test looking at activity of those genes that can help determine whether someone complaining of chest pain needs an artery-opening procedure, he said.

"We hope that the test we develop can distinguish people who are at very low risk from those who need intervention," Rosenberg added.

A multi-center trial of the test is underway, with results expected by next year, he said. "We're hoping to build on these results," he said. "We want to show that a signal in the expression of genes in peripheral blood cells tells of what's going on in the arteries."<
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