Research recently published in Nature Genetics, Dr Matthew Traylor and Prof Hugh Markus (Department of Clinical Neurosciences) and Dr Joanna Howson (Department of Public Health and Primary Care) with their collaborators have identified 22 new genetic risk factors for stroke and stroke subtypes in the largest genetic study of stroke undertaken to date. The work was part funded by the British Heart Foundation and the NIHR BRC.
The work represents a major global collaboration bringing together researchers from over 20 countries, including researchers from the Clinical School’s Department of Public Health and Primary Care, Departments of Clinical Neurosciences and Medicine, MRC Epidemiology Unit, and the Institute of Metabolic Science, to study up to 520,000 individuals, around 60,000 of which had suffered a stroke. By comparing the frequency of ~8 million genetic variants in people with strokes to those without, they were able to triple the number of gene regions identified to harbour variants known to affect stroke risk bringing the total number to 32.
The study provides evidence of shared genetic influences with other cardiovascular diseases, traits, and risk factors. Linking these results with extensive biological databases provides novel clues on stroke mechanisms and illustrates the potential of genetics to identify drug targets for stroke prevention.