As part of an effort to create new drugs for heart conditions, researchers are combining 3D videos of beating hearts with genetic information from 1600 volunteers in a big data project, according to a BBC News report.
The research is being carried out at the Medical Research Council’s Clinical Sciences Centre at Hammersmith Hospital, where the Cardiovascular Magnetic Resonance Imaging and Genetics team is using cardiovascular magnetic resonance (CMR) imaging of healthy volunteers and genome-wide association studies to link of millions of single nucleotide polymorphisms with cardiovascular traits.
According to Declan O’Regan of the Medical Research Council, this approach could reveal much more than normal clinical trials, which only collect relatively small amounts of health information over a number of years.
O’Regan said to the BBC: “There is a really complicated relationship between people’s genes and heart disease, and we are still trying to unravel what that is. But by getting really clear 3D pictures of the heart we hope to be able to get a much better understanding of the cause and effect of heart disease and give the right patients the right treatment at the right time.”
Further linkage and association studies in people with cardiovascular disease, and in their families, coupled with CMR imaging, found that mutations in the TTN gene are the most common form of inherited heart failure. TTN codes for titin, a large polypeptide involved in muscle elasticity. The next step is to integrate genetic studies of TTN with detailed CMR imaging in patients and controls, along with RNA sequencing of the human heart and protein-protein interactomes. This will allow the creation of gene networks and help to understand biological pathways, which is a route to finding diagnostic and therapeutic targets.