Developing strategies to prevent and treat coronary artery disease is the ultimate goal of the EU-funded FGENTCARD (Functional Genomic Diagnostic Tools for Coronary Artery Disease) project, which is lead by the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics at the University of Oxford in the UK. Coronary artery disease (CAD) is caused when deposits of fat and cholesterol build up inside the arteries, preventing enough blood from reaching the heart. Symptoms include chest pain, shortness of breath and numbness in the arms and shoulders, and it can lead to a heart attack. While it is known that diets high in fat and cholesterol play a significant role in CAD, scientists still do not understand what makes some people more susceptible to the disease than others. 'Coronary artery disease is a major health issue in the Western world and we want to get to the root of what causes it,' said Dominique Gauguier of the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics. 'It is a complex disease, so it's impossible to say 'We've found the gene for CAD'. Rather, it is caused by a number of factors, including the interaction of genes with other genes and with the environment.' The project partners will use DNA analysis to identify those at risk from CAD, and investigate how various genes interact with one another to affect the course of the disease. They will also look into whether CAD risk factors, such as insulin resistance or hypertension, can be predicted using biomarkers in the blood. Professor Gauguier hopes the project will help researchers tackle other complex diseases. 'We believe the study will play a key role in identifying targets for novel therapies to tackle the disease,' he explained. 'Ultimately, we hope that the wealth of information obtained by the project and the techniques that it helps us develop will lead to significant advances for disease diagnosis and prevention.' The project has received €3 million in funding from the European Commission. It brings together industrial and academic partners from the UK, France, Denmark and Lebanon, and will run for three years.
Denmark, France, Lebanon