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Published in This Week on June 30, 2014

Mississippians’ data helps crack genetic mystery

Hundreds of Mississippians helped scientists figure out a genetic puzzle: Why do certain people have low risk for heart attacks?

A study published last week in the “New England Journal of Medicine” explains how genetic mutations in approximately 1 in 150 people keep their triglyceride levels approximately 40 percent lower than normal, which is associated with a 40-percent reduction in heart attacks.

Data collected from local research participants, including members of the Jackson Heart Study and the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study, provided a substantial part of the genetic information that scientists analyzed in the new study.

“This paper is particularly exciting in that it identifies a potential therapeutic target,” said Dr. James Wilson, professor of physiology and biophysics who served on a steering committee for a National Institutes of Health-supported consortium that initiated these studies.

If drug makers can mimic the effects of the genetic mutations, many more people’s triglyceride levels could be brought down, potentially leading to fewer heart attacks.

The New York Times profiled the discovery. Click here to read the article.

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