LONDON, Oct. 3 (UPI) -- A worldwide study conducted by researchers from St. George's, University of London revealed new genes designated for heart function.
The study, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, was based on data collected from 73,518 individuals from around the world. Researchers compared the genetic makeup of their test subjects with ECG readings of their hearts, which identified abnormalities in muscle mass and pulse conduction. St George's Dr. Yalda Jamshidi says the findings may open the door for developing new treatments for cardiovascular diseases.
"This allowed us to discover 52 regions where 67 genes are located, which we now think are involved in the functioning of the cardiac muscle," Jamshidi said in a press release. "We already knew that some of these genes cause serious cardiac diseases, but we did not realize that the majority of them also play a role in the way the heart functions."
Jamshidi went on to add the next step in his research is identifying the specific roles the genes play. Researchers have continued testing the relationship between genetics and heart development using fruit flies. By switching certain genes on and off, scientists examine which genes are responsible for individual functions. St. George's scientists say it will take at least a decade to use the new data to develop new drugs.
"Our hope is that by looking at these particular genes, we will be able to link certain genes to the risk of heart problems," Jamshidi continued. "This would allow clinicians to use a person's genetic makeup to predict whether they have a high risk of heart failure, for example, and consider developing preventative measures."