Gene's Role in Atrial Fibrillation Studied

HOUSTON, May 10 (UPI) — Texas A&M University scientists say they’ve identified a gene’s role in atrial fibrillation — a finding they say might lead to new treatments for the malady.

Researchers at the university’s Health Science Center said their study was directed at understanding the genes that are important for controlling the normal heart beat rhythm.

“We believe this knowledge will be useful for making medications that can be used to treat atrial fibrillation,” said Dr. James Martin, a professor at the center’s Institute of Biosciences and Technology.

Atrial fibrillation, is an abnormal heart beat found in about 2.2 million Americans that can lead to clotting and stroke.

In the study, Martin and his colleagues examined a gene called Pitx2, part of a genetic family that’s important in embryonic development, including the heart.

They found Pitx2 inhibits the synthesis of other genes, predisposing people to atrial fibrillation. The goal now is to learn why that inhibition occurs.

The study that included Jun Wang, Elzbieta Klysik, Subeena Sood, Dr. Xander Wehrens and Associate Professor Randy Johnson also involved the Baylor College of Medicine.

The findings are reported in the early online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences prior to print.

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