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Fatal condition linked to genes


Gene researchers may have found a way to prevent a fatal and unexpected rupturing of the body’s main artery, it has been announced.

Scientists from the University of Rochester Medical Centre, in New York, have been looking at ways to prevent abdominal aortic aneurysms in mice.

The condition occurs when the aorta begins to swell and bulge after developing a weak spot. A rupture of the aorta is fatal in nine out of 10 cases and can often go undetected.

The study, published in the journal Nature Medicine, found removing the gene that makes the protein cyclophilin A prevented the condition in mice genetically predisposed to developing aneurysms.

Study leader Dr Bradford Berk, said the cyclophilin A protein may offer an effective target for preventing this process and researchers are now looking to create a course of treatment that blocks the protein in humans.

Previous studies into the condition indicated that abdominal aneurysms occur due to a hormone for controlling blood pressure, called angiotensin II. Dr Berk believes angiotensin II unlocks cyclophilin A, which causes much of the damage.

“It influences the formation of aneurysms in many ways,” Dr Berk told Reuters.

Copyright Press Association 2009

University of Rochester Medical Centre

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