Cholesterol-removing gene may prevent heart disease


Islamabad, Feb 15 (TNS): Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women which highlights the urgent need for new strategies to prevent the condition. Researchers may be one step closer to meeting this need, after locating a gene that assists in the clearance of excess cholesterol from blood vessels.

Researchers reveal how a gene called MeXis helps to clear cholesterol from blood vessels. The gene known as MeXis was previously believed to sit under the umbrella of “selfish” genes, or those thought to be functionless because they fail to produce proteins. But the new study shows that MeXis does not need to produce proteins to be useful. Instead, it makes molecules known as long-coding RNAs ( IncRNAs)

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), around 610,000 people in the United States die from heart disease every year. Coronary artery disease (CAD), which is also called coronary heart disease, is the most common form of heart disease, accounting for around 370,000 deaths annually. CAD is caused by the accumulation of plaque in the arteries. Over time, plaque buildup can block the arteries and reduce the flow of blood to the heart, which is a process known as atherosclerosis. This can lead to chest pain, or angina, irregular heartbeat, heart attack, and heart failure. High cholesterol more specifically, high low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol is a major risk factor for heart disease. When we consume too much cholesterol from our diet, it can accumulate in the arteries. Dr. Sallam and colleagues discovered how the MeXis gene helps to remove excess cholesterol from the arteries, potentially opening the door to a new strategy for heart disease prevention.