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Gene Mutations Leave Caucasians Prone To Heart Diseases And Diabetes

A study of genes by American scientists has revealed a startling find. Around 75 percent of whites or those of European descent have DNA that is linked to the risks of developing heart diseases. And thats not all. These genes lie close to another set that is connected with diabetes.

The findings, made by two independent groups of researchers, may help explain why so many people have heart disease even if they do not have clear risk factors such as smoking, high cholesterol or high blood pressure. They could also lead to a test to predict the risk of heart disease, the biggest cause of death across the globe.

Says Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Human Genome Research Institute: "I think this is a stunner. "It seems like this one place carries all of that weight for two very common and very dangerous diseases."

In both studies a cutting edge technology for the search and discovery of disease causing genes, known as the genome-wide association study, was used. Since the landmark completion of mapping the human genome in 2003, scientists have been able to sniff out vital genes from virtually, millions of them. The two studies, using 40,000 people, found the same thing -a stretch of DNA called 9q21 carried certain mutations in people with heart disease. Scientists say that as it is an area that had not previously been identified as a gene, this may make it more difficult to determine how it causes disease.

While Dr. Ruth McPherson of the University of Ottawa Heart Institute and colleagues scanned blood samples from 23,000 people, Anna Helgadottir of Iceland-based deCODE Genetics Inc. in Reykjavik and U.S. colleagues at Emory University in Atlanta, the University of Pennsylvania and Duke University in North Carolina, tested 17,000 people.

The deCODE team found that about 21 percent of the people they tested had mutations in both copies of this DNA stretch, giving them a 64 percent higher ri
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