DOCTOR'S VIEW ARCHIVEMedical Authors and Editors: Barbara K. Hecht, Ph.D. and Frederick Hecht, M.D.
Feb 9, 2004 -- A gene that carries a large risk for heart attack and stroke has been identified. The gene called FLAP is first major gene to be discovered for the usual type of heart attack. And it is the second major genetic factor identified in the common form of stroke.
A particular version of FLAP was reported to double the risk for a heart attack and almost double the risk for stroke in Iceland. Another version of FLAP was found associated with heart attacks in the UK.
This was reported in the online edition of Nature Genetics yesterday. The research was done by a team of scientists led by deCODE Genetics in Iceland.
The FLAP gene helps make a leukotriene, a signal that activates the white blood cells involved in inflammation. Both heart disease and stroke involve inflammation in the arterial wall. FLAP stands for 5-lipoxygenase activating protein.
Inhibiting the activity of FLAP may be an effective means of reducing inflammation and thereby preventing the development of heart attack and stroke. According to the company, deCODE has licensed a compound designed to inhibit FLAP and has designed clinical trials to test its effectiveness in reducing inflammation and in preventing heart attack.
Time will tell whether the flap over FLAP is really important.
1. A Helgadottir and others. The gene encoding 5-lipoxygenase activating protein confers risk of myocardial infarction and stroke. Nature Genetics Published online: 8 February 2004, doi:10.1038/ng1311.
2. deCODE Genetics press release. Feb 8, 2004.