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Gene Protecting Against Stroke Identified

Update Date: Nov 26, 2014 09:50 AM EST

Scientists have discovered a gene that protects people under 50 from stroke. The discovery could lead to treatment of stroke which is among the leading causes of death in the young and middle-aged.

According to The Times of India, researchers at University of London's School of Biological Sciences made the discovery after studying the genome of 1,400 people with cervical artery dissection, one of the leading causes of stroke in under-50 population. A tear in the cervical artery which supplies blood to the brain can result in blood clots and compress adjacent nerves, causing a stroke. The research also involved study of 14,400 people with the condition.

The study found that people without the disease had a specific variant of PHACTR1 gene, indicating a reduced risk compared to those without the variant. PHACTR 1 is also associated with reduced risk of migraine and heart attack, The Independent reported.

"This is an important breakthrough. Our findings provide us with a greater understanding of how this region of the genome appears to influence key vascular functions, which could have major implications for the treatment of these severe and disabling conditions," said Professor Pankaj Sharma, of the School of Biological Sciences at the university.

"Further genetic analyses and worldwide collaborations of this kind provide hope of pinpointing the underlying mechanisms that cause stroke. The Bio-Repository of DNA in Stroke (BRAINS) study I am leading is creating a large stroke DNA biobank which will give an exciting opportunity to identify the genes directly linked to the condition," Sharma further said in a news release.

Daily Mail reported that nearly 15 million people worldwide suffer stroke, with 152,000 in UK alone, every year, resulting in disability. Nearly a quarter of those disabled in UK belong to the under 65 category.

Study's findings have been published in the journal Nature Genetics

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