HomeNews EventsNewsIdentification of cholesterol gene in Asians can help in heart disease management

Identification of cholesterol gene in Asians can help in heart disease management

02 Oct 2017

Image from MedAdvisor

A recent study led by Professor Tai E Shyong and Assistant Professor Dr Sim Xueling, along with other researchers, has discovered, for the first time in Asians, the PCSK9 gene that affects cholesterol. The gene had only been identified in Europeans until now. Analysing nearly 69,500 individuals from 6 countries (Philippines, Taiwan, China, Japan, South Korea and Singapore), the five-year study is the largest in Asia to identify genes that influence blood cholesterol levels.

Discovery of the PCSK9 gene could help in the management of heart disease in Asia by allowing for gene-targeted drug intervention to control levels of bad cholesterol in the blood, an important risk factor for heart disease which can be determined by a combination of genetic and lifestyle factors.

“Individuals with the PCSK9 gene could reduce their risk of heart disease or stroke by adopting healthier dietary habits and exercising more regularly,” said Dr Sim, “But for those already with heart disease or diabetes, they may need medication to bring their disease under control.”

Prof Tai also reiterated that while lifestyle changes can reduce the risk of heart disease for all patients, medication may still be required for those who are at high risk and for whom lifestyle changes are insufficient, which is where gene-based drug therapy can be useful.

“We will continue to collaborate with researchers in other countries to see if we can potentially identify another gene that could help identify individuals who are at high risk for cardiovascular disease,” said Dr Sim.

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