Research to explore how genes and other factors affect the risk of cardiometabolic disease – Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis
Researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis received an $ 8.8 million grant over four years to accelerate research to understand how an individual risks cardiometabolic diseases, such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes, are influenced by the interaction of specific genes with demographic and lifestyle factors.
Going beyond the low percentage risk of disease explained by genes alone, this study will explore how gender, race, ethnicity, smoking, alcohol use, diet, and exercise levels can combine with genetic risks to trigger the metabolic processes that underlie heart disease.
“By studying the genomic and lifestyle contributors to cardiometabolic health through their interactions between genders and diverse populations, our research can help advance the emerging field of precision medicine,” said the principal investigator DC Rao, PhD, professor of biostatistics, genetics, psychiatry and mathematics.
Rao’s main co-investigators at the medical school include a cardiologist Lisa de las Fuentes, MD, professor of medicine and biostatistics, and statistical geneticist C. Charles Gu, PhD, associate professor of biostatistics and genetics.
Precision medicine uses information about a person’s genetic makeup, metabolism, and other biological and lifestyle factors to optimize strategies for preventing or treating a health problem. Such personalized approaches to treatment are more likely to be successful for individual patients, rather than a one-size-fits-all approach.
Funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), this new survey will be the third in a series of similar studies in which Rao and his team use statistical analysis to identify gene-lifestyle interactions associated with cardiovascular and cardiometabolic disease. – the main causes of death in the United States and around the world.
Their original study identified promising interactions between genes and lifestyle, many related to African ancestry, but the study did not have the sample size necessary to robustly validate the interactions as statistically significant. .
The current study, involving investigators from the United States and outside, will overcome this hurdle by increasing the sample size tenfold to include data from more than one million people, including people from several countries outside the United States. With a sample of 912,000 people of European descent, 231,000 of Asian descent, 91,000 of African descent and 33,000 of Hispanic descent, this will be the largest and most diverse survey of gene interactions. lifestyle attempted.
By focusing heavily on gene-lifestyle interactions, Rao’s study represents a departure from traditional genome-wide association studies (GWAS), which quickly scan the genomes of many people for genetic variations associated with a particular disease. His approach, known as the Genome-Wide Interaction Study (GWIS), adds the ability to show how smoking, alcohol consumption, physical activity, obesity, length of sleep and other lifestyle factors interact with genes to influence high blood pressure, diabetes, cholesterol levels, and other metabolic characteristics that can increase the risk of heart attack or stroke.
“The study aims to identify novel gene-lifestyle interactions that contribute to the risk of cardiometabolic disease and to better understand the molecular mechanics underlying these interactions,” said Gu. “By detailing biomarkers and associated molecular traits, such as DNA methylation, gene expression and metabolites, the study may reveal new opportunities for disease intervention.”
De las Fuentes added: “Our findings could reveal new diagnostic and therapeutic tools, identify targets for the development of new drugs and serve as the basis for a more precise and personalized approach to healthcare for heart disease, diabetes. and other metabolic diseases. This project has great potential to advance the field.