Business News

NCRC getting personal about heart disease

August 16, 2013


Link to original article in Business Today

One of the responsibilities of running a business is finding affordable employee health coverage. NC Research Campus scientists are not going to reshape health care policy, but they are contributing to the next generation of personalized medicine that will lower healthcare costs for everyone.

According to the Personalized Medicine Coalition, personalized medicine is “the tailoring of medical treatment to the individual characteristics of each patient… (based on) how a person’s unique molecular and genetic profile makes them susceptible to certain diseases.”

Take heart disease. It is the number one cause of death among Americans. Duke Medicine physicians published findings in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology of a “new gene expression profile (that) not only measures the effectiveness of aspirin, but also serves as a strong predictor of patients who are at risk for heart attack.”

 Geoffrey Ginsburg, MD PhD, director of genomic medicine at Duke’s Institute for Genome Sciences & Policy, executive director of the Center for Personalized Medicine and a David H. Murdock Research Institute (DHMRI) board member, commented in a Duke Medicine news release, that research is still ongoing and is moving toward the development of a “standardized testing system that could one day move the analysis into daily practice.”

That means doctors will know with more certainty who will respond to the use of aspirin as a blood thinner to prevent heart attacks. People who are not responders because of their genetic make-up will then receive different and more effective treatments for them. DHMRI, a NC Research Campus partner, conducted laboratory services for the study.

Heart attacks and strokes, another top killer of Americans, are often caused by atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries. UNC Chapel Hill Nutrition Research Institute scientists Karen Corbin, PhD, RD, and Brian Bennett, PhD, have found that the progression of artherosclerosis and non-alcoholic fatty liver are genetically connected through the gene Farnesoid X Receptor (FXR) and Trimethylamine-N-oxide (TMAO), a metabolite of the essential nutrient choline. TMAO is recognized as a cause and predictor of heart disease.

By employing a genome wide approach, Corbin and Bennett are identifying a range of genes, metabolic pathways and nutrients to broaden the understanding of how they interact in the formation of both diseases. Just like Duke’s research, the result will be a more individualized approach to prevention and treatment.


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