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Scientists Spot Stroke Genes
Date:4/15/2009

ion Institute of Molecular Medicine for the Prevention of Human Diseases at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. "Stroke has traditionally been a little bit behind, so this is a nice breakthrough in that regard because we're sort of catching up."

The authors used data from a consortium of four studies involving almost 20,000 people, all white, followed for an average of 11 years.

"Basically, the studies were monitoring the development of stroke over time, and we superimposed onto that information the genetic data, which was to look at 2.2 million polymorphisms across the genome in these participants," Fornage explained. "We identified two polymorphisms that were located in the same chromosomal region."

The researchers replicated the findings in other white populations and in blacks.

"What we have now is a location for a gene that predisposes to stroke," Fornage said. "We still don't know the actual mutation, [although] we have a good idea that it's the NINJ2 gene, involved in the brain's response to injury." The other gene candidate is WNK1, involved with blood pressure control.

Researchers next need to understand how the genes work.

"The step is to identify the actual mutation that may occur in that gene," Fornage said.

Siller said that researchers are "getting closer and closer to unraveling certain recipes in the body for what might predispose you to stroke."

"But unless you can manipulate the genes, the information is not practical, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't get this information," he said. "We have to gear up for the time manipulations might be possible."

Also, being able to identify people at greater risk for stroke might spur more aggressive lifestyle changes in order to reduce that risk, Siller added.

"That does have implications for today," he said.

More information

The American Stroke Association has
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