7 New Cholesterol Genes Found
Genes May Make Good Targets for New Cholesterol Drugs, Experts Say
WebMD News Archive
Jan. 14, 2008 -- Scientists have discovered seven genes that affect levels
of HDL ("good") cholesterol, LDL ("bad")
cholesterol, and triglycerides (another type of
Several of those genes "are potentially attractive drug targets" to
lower heart disease risk, write the
University of Michigan's Cristen Willer, PhD, and colleagues.
Two of the newly identified genes only affect HDL cholesterol, one only
affects LDL cholesterol, three only affect triglycerides, and one affects LDL
cholesterol and triglycerides.
Willer's team also confirmed that 11 previously identified genes affect
cholesterol and/or triglyceride levels.
The scientists spotted the cholesterol and triglyceride genes by analyzing
DNA from more than 8,800 people and then double-checking their findings by
testing the DNA of more than 11,000 other people.
The findings were published online in Nature Genetics, along with two
independent studies with similar results.
Willer and colleagues also noticed that genes for high LDL cholesterol
levels were associated with greater risk of coronary artery disease, which
makes heart attacks more likely.
"Nearly all of the gene regions that we found to be involved in higher
LDL levels were also involved in coronary artery disease risk," Willer
states in a news release. "This is a remarkable result and suggests that
new drug therapies that target the genes in these regions will also help
prevent coronary artery disease and allow people to live longer and healthier
One day, it may be possible to tailor cholesterol and triglyceride
treatments to a patient's gene profile, the researchers note.
Meanwhile, your doctor can check your cholesterol and triglyceride levels
and give you advice about how to improve those levels through diet, exercise, and medication, if