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I Heart

A study of 338 patients with coronary artery disease (CAD) has identified a gene expression profile associated with an elevated risk of cardiovascular death. Used with other indicators, such as biochemical markers and family history, the profile may help identify patients who could benefit from personalized treatment and counseling designed to address risk factors. The profile is based on a simple blood test.

Researchers found the risk signature by comparing gene expression profiles in 31 study subjects who died of cardiovascular causes against the profiles of living members of the study group. Twenty-five of the 31 deaths occurred in the group with the high-risk profile, though coronary deaths were also recorded among the lower risk members of the study group. All of the patients studied had CAD, and about one in five had suffered a heart attack prior to the study.

Researchers from Georgia Tech and Princeton University participated in the study, which obtained gene expression profiles from blood samples taken from patients undergoing cardiac catheterization at Emory University clinics in Atlanta, Georgia. The results were published in the journal Genome Medicine.

“We envision that with our gene expression-based marker, plus some biochemical markers, genotype information, and family history, we could produce a tiered evaluation of people’s risks of adverse coronary events,” said Greg Gibson, director of the Center for Integrative Genomics at Georgia Tech and one of the study’s senior authors. “This could lead to a personalized medicine approach for people recovering from heart attack or coronary artery bypass grafting.”

Greg Gibson

Greg Gibson is a professor in the School of Biology who’s identifying people who may benefit from personalized treatment for coronary artery disease.

photo realistic illustration of human heart


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