Icelandic gene discovery to help in fight against heart disease

Photo: Iceland Monitor/Styrmir Kári

A major discovery by Icelandic genomics company DeCode Genetics could lead to new ways of combating coronary artery disease.

The DeCode team have discovered a rare inactive variant of the ASGR1 gene.

Comparing the occurrence of this variant gene with the health records of thousands of people in Iceland and abroad, the team found that the gene considerably reduces non-HDL cholesterol in the blood and reduces the risk of coronary artery disease and heart attacks by 35%.

Kári Stefánsson.

Kári Stefánsson. Photo: Iceland Monitor/Golli

The Icelandic team’s findings have been published in the New Eng­land Journal of Medic­ine, and can be read in full here. The article states that these findings could potentially lead to new ways of combating coronary artery disease.

“This discovery is yet another example of how genetics supports pharmaceuticals,” says DeCode CEO Kári Stefánsson.

“Our findings are already being used to develop drugs against such things as osteoporosis, coronary artery disease, migraines and Alzheimer’s. Our colleagues at Amgen are now turning their attention to the ASGR1 gene.”

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