Sunday, August 30, 2009

'Heart disease gene' uncovered (South Africa)

Stellenbosch, South Africa, scientists have identified a heart disease gene in a South African family that has been plagued by a rare heart condition for more than 300 years. The rogue gene - which contains a rare protein mutation - has been traced back to a Portuguese emigrant who came to the Cape from Madeira in 1694. Descendants of the man - who married a woman of Dutch descent - now live throughout South Africa. Until recently, they were far more likely than the general population to suffer fatal heart complications. Now, however, knowledge about their genetic status means they are forewarned and able to seek help in the form of pacemakers, which allow them to live relatively normal lives. The medical breakthrough, soon to be published in an international medical journal, is not only a major triumph for South African research but also for a father-and-son research team, professors Andries and Paul Brink, who spearheaded the project at different times during a 35-year research quest. - The Times

No comments: