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Genetic Research the Battleground in the Fight Against Heart Disease


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Modern medicine has the technology and scientific tools to reduce and probably eliminate heart disease over the next 50 years, says Dr. Robert Roberts, CEO and President of the University of Ottawa Heart Institute (UOHI).

Significant research underway at the Heart Institute will soon enable scientists to isolate, understand and target the trail of genetic activity that causes Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) - the leading killer in North America, Dr. Roberts said in a keynote speech at the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress.

This means that in the near future, patients with a predisposition to heart disease could be genetically assessed by a simple blood test and provided with a full preventive prescription to prevent the onset on heart disease.

"We are looking at an era somewhere in the not-too-distant future when a person's genetic makeup will be looked at for specific variances, then a preventive package can individualized and personalized," says Dr. Roberts.

"I don't think there is any doubt that we must and will identify the appropriate
genes, determine their function and get specific about targeting them."

Research at the Canadian Cardiovascular Genetics Research Centre™, located at the Heart Institute, involves interrogating genes that could lead to Coronary Artery Disease by allowing scientists to identify genetic differences between patients who have CAD and those who are free from heart disease.

The Heart Institute employs a variety of unique technologies, such as Affymetrix GeneChip®, to process massive amounts of miniature arrays, identify genes and allow researchers to determine patterns of genetic activity.

To date, the Heart Institute has completed 700 million genotypes on 1,400 patients, Dr. Robert says.

Patient controls are selected from the high-volume, 64-slice scanner in Canada dedicated to cardiac care.

The Heart Institute's computerized tomography (CT) allows for detailed mapping of the vascular system and surrounding soft tissue with a series of data sets for the 3D visuals.

"Until we know the genetic component of heart disease, we are not in a position to provide a truly comprehensive prevention program," said Dr. Roberts.

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