Genes, the structural units
of inheritance in living
organisms are defined by intervals along one of the DNA
(Deoxyribo Nucleic Acid) molecules. The DNA structure is
a double helix, like a ladder that is twisted into
a spiral shape. The DNA has a set of instructions, a
detailed set of plans, much like a blueprint to build
cells. DNA is packaged into compact units called
"chromosomes". Each human cell has 46 chromosomes (2 sex
chromosomes and 22 pairs of non sex chromosomes)
We all have heard someone say.................
"She has her mother's eyes" or "he has his father's chin".
Why do we look like our parents?
Each of us receives traits in the form of genes from our
mother and father. The passing of genes from parent to
child is known as inheritance. Each child receives half
their genes from their father and half from their mother.
So each child has some of each parent's traits
---some but not all.
Can Coronary Artery Disease Run in Families?
Yes . If a member of your immediate family
(blood relative) has coronary artery disease, your risk
of someday developing it is about twice as high as the
rest of the population. The earlier in life a disease
occurs, the greater is the influence of genes. Early age
is generally considered to be before 55 for men and before
65 for women.
What genes are in involved in coronary artery disease?
Over 250 genes have been proposed to be involved in coronary
artery disease (genes involved with LDL-C, HDL-C, blood
clotting and wound healing). Further studies will be needed,
not only to discover new genes, but also to understand how genes
interact to increase or decrease
risk. As in most common diseases, coronary artery disease results
from an interaction of environment and genes.
factors that reduce the risk of coronary artery disease even in
the presence of genetic risk factors are:
control of high blood pressure
(by diet, exercise, weight reduction)
control of diabetes (by diet, exercise,
control of cholesterol (by diet, exercise,
control of weight (by diet, exercise, weight
When coronary artery disease runs in families, why don't all
family members have it?
All members of the same family do not have the same height or hair
colour, so it makes sense that they will not all have the same
conditions of disease. Genetics and environment both play a role.
Some family members will be exposed to environmental agents that
will trigger disease, and others will not.
How will discoveries about DNA help people and
families with coronary disease?
By discovering the strengths and weakness of someone's genes, we
can personalize medicine based on the prevention, diagnosis,
treatment and prognosis.
Better genetic information may explain why one medication
works better in one person and not in the other. It will make choosing
treatments more precise. If a gene is over-active,
then a scientist can look at ways to turn off or interfere with its
activity. Likewise, if the gene is underactive, scientists can
look at ways to increase its activity. Scientists believe genes will
tell us a lot about the risk of developing coronary artery disease
and the progress of coronary artery disease.
The GEMS Study is funded by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK),
a world leading research-based pharmaceutical company that is committed to
focus on genetics in its drug research and development efforts, making it
an industry leader in the science and technology of genetic research. Click
the logo to find out more about Genetics at GSK.