Monday March 18, 2019

Gene Therapy Can Help Correct Heart Rhythm Disorder

However, considerable research is still needed before a treatment can be arrived at that is suitable for human patients

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The study modified the levels of the protein encoded by a single gene known as GPR39.  Pixabay

A novel gene therapy uses an implanted LED device to reset a racing heart immediately and automatically, paving the way for pain-free treatment for patients with heart rhythm disorder.

The therapy detects fast arrhythmias in the atrium of a rat’s heart and sends a signal to a LED device placed near the heart.

“The flash of light from this LED then causes the heart to generate an electric current itself to halt the arrhythmia,” said lead investigator Daniel Pijnappels at Leiden University in the Netherlands.

“This is made possible by using gene therapy to introduce specific light-sensitive proteins into the heart. This restores the heart’s normal rhythm immediately and automatically,” he added.

According to the researchers, this could represent a great improvement on the current way of stopping atrial fibrillation.

The heart attack brings about activation of certain genes which stay as a permanent memory in genes. Pixabay

Atrial fibrillation is the most common heart rhythm disorder in clinical practice. The current treatment, known as cardioversion, is based on administering an electric shock to the heart, which has to be done in the hospital under general anaesthesia because of pain.

For many patients, this is the only treatment to immediately stop atrial fibrillation because drugs or an operation are ineffective.

“The bioelectronic defibrillator can stop atrial fibrillation without an electrical shock. In this way, the heart can be reset in a fully automated manner and at any time,” Pijnappels said, in the paper reported in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

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“We anticipate that this treatment for atrial fibrillation could improve both the patient’s quality of life and their prognosis,” he added.

However, considerable research is still needed before a treatment can be arrived at that is suitable for human patients, the researchers noted. (IANS)

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Amazing Fact! Your Genes Determine Your Quality of Sleep

"Our study suggests that many of the genes important for sleep in animal models may also influence sleep in humans and opens the door to better understanding of the function and regulation of sleep," Dashti added.

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This was comparable to other well-recognised factors that influenced sleep duration. Pixabay

Experiencing problems like insomnia or hypersomnia could be genetic, say researchers who identified 76 new gene regions associated with the time a person sleeps.

It is well known that regularly getting adequate sleep — 7 to 8 hours per night — is important for health, and both insufficient sleep — 6 or fewer hours — and excessive sleep — 9 hours or more — have been linked to significant health problems.

Family studies have suggested that 10 to 40 per cent of variation in sleep duration may be inherited, and previous genetic studies have associated variants in two gene regions with the sleep duration.

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“Our study suggests that many of the genes important for sleep in animal models may also influence sleep in humans and opens the door to better understanding of the function and regulation of sleep,” Dashti added. Pixabay

The study from the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) in Boston, US, analysed genetic data from more than 446,000 participants, who self-reported the amount of sleep they typically received.

The study identified 78 gene regions — including the two previously identified — as associated with sleep duration.

While carrying a single gene variant influenced the average amount of sleep by only a minute, participants carrying the largest number of duration-increasing variants reported an average of 22 more minutes of sleep, compared with those with the fewest.

This was comparable to other well-recognised factors that influenced sleep duration.

 

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Family studies have suggested that 10 to 40 per cent of variation in sleep duration may be inherited, and previous genetic studies have associated variants in two gene regions with the sleep duration. Pixabay

“While we spend about a third of our life asleep, we have little knowledge of the specific genes and pathways that regulate the amount of sleep people get,” said Hassan Saeed Dashti from MGH.

“Our study suggests that many of the genes important for sleep in animal models may also influence sleep in humans and opens the door to better understanding of the function and regulation of sleep,” Dashti added.

The study, published in Nature Communications journal, also found shared genetic links between both short and long sleep duration.

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It also found factors such as higher levels of body fat, depression symptoms and fewer years of schooling, implying negative effects from both too little and too much sleep.

While short sleep duration was genetically linked with insomnia and smoking, long sleep duration was linked with ailments such as schizophrenia, Type-2 diabetes and coronary artery disease. (IANS)