Nutritionists are asking whether scientists should be testing fish oil with specific amounts of DHA to EPA and sources of GLA, and other nutrients such as magnesium, CoenzymeQ10, D-Ribose, and L-Carnitine for starters along with dietary changes when it comes to controlling triglycerides instead of looking for more prescription drugs, or in relation to health in general. A new study of DNA focuses on a key role and importance for triglycerides. But why are the scientists not mentioning the health benefits for some of cod liver oil's ability to lower triglycerides or how fructose raises triglycerides?
On the other hand, unless a study looks for more ways to use drugs that target specific genetic variations, it's going to be even more difficult to find enough grants for research on using foods as medicine, as you can see in the October 6, 2013 news release about the latest study published recently in the journal Nature Genetics, on how genetic variations change types and levels of fats in the blood, "Massive DNA study points to new heart drug targets and a key role for triglycerides." The new knowledge focuses on the importance of triglycerides and other blood fats.
Basically scientists are looking for drugs that can change gene variations if the gene variations raise the risk of heart disease and related events coming from clogged arteries. The new knowledge published in the papers should fuel drug development and experiments in animal models of cardiovascular risk. But most consumers wish new research instead would fuel nutritional solutions so that people would have a choice to avoid side effects of prescription drug usage in the long-term along with its expense and look to food as medicine and nutritional supplements that are standardized.
A global hunt for genes that influence heart disease risk has uncovered 157 changes in human DNA that alter the levels of cholesterol and other blood fats -- a discovery that could lead to new medications. Each of the changes points to genes that can modify levels of cholesterol and other blood fats and are potential drug targets. Many of the changes point to genes not previously linked to blood fats, also called lipids.
Key role for triglycerides
In light of the reality, presently a massive DNA study points to new heart drug targets and a key role for triglycerides. At last you see communication, sharing, and best of all, open collaboration among global genetic researchers, coordinated by U-M team, provides strong foundation for further research.
A global hunt for genes that influence heart disease risk has uncovered 157 changes in human DNA that alter the levels of cholesterol and other blood fats – a discovery that could lead to new medications. Each of the changes points to genes that can modify levels of cholesterol and other blood fats and are potential drug targets.
Many of the changes point to genes not previously linked to blood fats, also called lipids. A surprising number of the variations were also associated with coronary artery disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and high blood pressure.
The research also reveals that triglycerides – another type of blood lipid – play a larger role in heart disease risk than previously thought
The results, published in two new papers appearing simultaneously in the journal Nature Genetics, come from the Global Lipids Genetics Consortium -- a worldwide team of scientists who pooled genetic and clinical information from more than 188,000 people from many countries and heritages.
The analysis of the combined data was led by a team from the University of Michigan Medical School and School of Public Health. They used sophisticated computing and statistical techniques to search for genetic variations that modify blood lipid levels.
Many genetic variants are linked to blood lipids (fats)
The results increase by more than a third the total number of genetic variants linked to blood lipids. All but one of the variants associated with blood lipids are near stretches of DNA that encode proteins.
"These results give us 62 new clues about lipid biology, and more places to look than we had before," says Cristen Willer, Ph.D., in the October 6, 2013 news release, Massive DNA study points to new heart drug targets and a key role for triglycerides. Willer is the lead author of one paper and an assistant professor of Internal Medicine, Human Genetics and Computational Medicine & Bioinformatics at the University of Michigan (U-M) Medical School. "Once we take the time to truly understand these clues, we'll have a better understanding of lipid biology and cardiovascular disease -- and potentially new targets for treatment."
But, cautions senior author and U-M School of Public Health Professor Gonçalo Abecasis, Ph.D., it will take much further work to study the implicated genes and to find and test potential drugs that could target them. The consortium's "open science" approach will include publishing further detail online for other researchers to use freely toward this goal.
A further analysis of the massive dataset, published as a letter with lead authors Sekar Kathiresan and Ron Do from Harvard University and the Broad Institute, suggests that triglyceride levels have more impact on cardiovascular disease risk than previously thought.
This analysis found that genetic variations that increase triglyceride or LDL-cholesterol levels are also associated with higher incidence of heart disease
The analysis also casts further doubt on the role of high density lipoprotein, known commonly as HDL or "good cholesterol", in heart disease risk. In recent years, many drugs that modify HDL cholesterol have failed to show a benefit in preventing heart disease.
"We couldn't have done this on our own. Great scientists are usually very competitive, but it is great when we come together and accelerate progress." says Abecasis, in the news release. Abecasis is the Felix E. Moore Collegiate Professor of Biostatistics, and director of the U-M Computational and Translational Genomics Initiative.
The right tool for the right SNPs
The GLGC is focused on finding, cataloging and analyzing genetic variations that modify blood lipids and heart disease risk. The researchers had access to a new tool – a custom DNA analysis chip they helped design that allows inexpensive analysis of DNA in studies of cardiovascular and metabolic traits.
Combined with genome-wide association study (GWAS) techniques, and the sheer number and diversity of the participants engaged by the researchers, the chip helped make the research possible on a much larger scale than ever before.
University of Michigan (U-M) graduate students Ellen M. Schmidt and Sebanti Sengupta – studying Bioinformatics and Biostatistics, respectively – played key roles in analysis of data, blending their skills to handle a massive amount of data and feed it through powerful computers.
Willer says, according to the news release, that the new knowledge published in the papers should fuel drug development and experiments in animal models of cardiovascular risk. But in her specialty, probing huge amounts of genetic data, the next steps include looking for "networks" of genes that interact with one another, to try to glean clues about the function of the lesser-understood genes.
Looking for rare genetic variants that are linked with the most severe forms of lipid disorder and heart disease is another challenge, she says. The overlap between these rare, serious variations, and the more common but less severe variations, could help understanding of basic lipid biology. You also may want to take a look at an older unrelated study, "Limitations of the Human Reference Genome for Personalized Genomics."
In addition to the University of Michigan (U-M) authors mentioned above, the research team included University of Michigan (U-M) biostatistics professor Michael Boehnke, Ph.D., and dozens of scientists and students from around the world. A full list of authors and affiliations is on each of the papers. The latest study is referenced as Nature Genetics, doi:10.1038/ng.2797 and doi:10.1038/ng.2795.
Dr. Willer holds a Pathway to Independence Award (K99/R00) from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Ellen Schmidt holds a National Science Foundation Open Data fellowship. Other funding came from the funders of each of the genetic cohort studies that contributed data to the GLGC. Also you may wish to check out the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation.