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Researchers looking for the genetic basis of coronary heart disease have found at least seven genetic variants significantly associated with symptomatic disease. The three most convincing were on chromosomes 2, 6, and 9, and together they could be responsible for 38% (95% CI 13% to 55%) of coronary artery disease in the population. The other four are entirely new, thrown up by a combined analysis of two large case-control studies in European adults.
Researchers used the new rapid genotyping technology to scan for half a million or so genetic variants (single nucleotide polymorphisms) in people with and without coronary heart disease. The “best” three were significantly associated with heart disease in both studies, which increases the likelihood that the associations were real, not statistical artefacts generated by multiple comparisons.
The genetic variant on chromosome 9 (9p21.3) looks like the strongest candidate locus so far, says an editorial (doi: 10.1056/NEJMe078121). Other researchers have already reported links between 9p21.3 and heart disease in a variety of populations using several different scanning technologies. We won't know for some time how (or even if) these variants cause coronary heart disease, says the author. But other candidates are likely to follow soon.