Studies screening the genome of hundreds of thousands of individuals (known as Genome-wide association studies or GWAS) have linked more than 100 regions in the genome to the risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
Researchers from the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) and the University of Heidelberg, through the joint Molecular Medicine Partnership Unit (MMPU), are taking these results one step further by pinpointing the exact genes that could have a role in the onset of the disease.
Their findings are published today in the online journal PLoS Genetics.
The scientists used a technology called "RNA interference" that can selectively decrease the level of expression of targeted genes.
By observing what changes, if any, this decrease causes in cells, researchers can identify the function of the genes and, on a larger scale, objectively test the function of many genes in parallel, reports Science Daily.
"In principle, our approach can be applied to any disease that has an observable effect on cells. The genes identified here may further our understanding of the mechanisms leading to cardiovascular disease and allow us to improve its prediction and diagnosis," said Heiko Runz of the team.