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Multinational research team identifies new genes that may be important for determining blood lipid levels

06 August 2010

Patients suffering from cardiovascular diseases can look forward to better treatments in the future. Singapore scientists together with American, European and Asian researchers have identified new genes that could be important in determining blood lipid levels which are major risk factors for cardiovascular disease. This provides the foundation to identify new preventive and therapeutic opportunities for coronary artery disease in particular. The findings were published in the prestigious Nature journal on 4 August 2010.

The Singapore researchers involved in this study are from the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine (YLLSoM), NUS; Genome Institute of Singapore, Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR); and the Singapore Eye Research Institute.

"One of the key aims of this study was to extend the findings to non-European groups, to see if they have a common relevance in different global populations, including a Chinese and Malay population from Singapore," said Prof Tai E Shyong of the Division of Endocrinology, YLLSoM. "The study found a number of new genes that could be important in determining lipid levels and that the majority of the genetic loci contribute to the genetic architecture of lipid traits widely across global populations. It was also found that the genes in a person that determines how abnormal the blood lipids are may also be the genes that cause heart attack itself."

The Singapore investigators made significant contributions to the study through their ability to access extensive, high-quality genotype data from large multi-ethnic populations, which is usually limited in these groups. The study showed that human beings share many common genetic variants despite race differences.

The studies carried out in Singapore were funded and supported by the Singapore Government via grants from A*STAR's Biomedical Research Council and the National Medical Research Council.