A newly discovered genetic variant may increase the risk of heart disease in people with type 2 diabetes by more than a third, according to a study led by researchers at Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) and Joslin Diabetes Center. It is the first genome-wide association study (GWAS) to identify a novel genetic variant associated with coronary heart disease (CHD) in people with type 2 diabetes, who have a two- to four-fold higher risk of heart disease compared with those without diabetes. The finding could lead to new interventions aimed at preventing or treating CHD among patients with type 2 diabetes.

“This is a very intriguing finding because this variant was not found in previous genome-wide association studies in the general population,” said lead author Lu Qi, assistant professor in the HSPH Department of Nutrition and assistant professor at the Channing Division of Network Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “This means that the genetic risk factors for cardiovascular disease may be different among those with and without diabetes.”

“The identification of this genetic variant opens up the possibility of developing treatments that are specifically aimed at breaking the links between diabetes and CHD,” said co-lead author Alessandro Doria, associate professor in the Department of Epidemiology at HSPH and a researcher at Joslin Diabetes Center.

The study appears online August 27 and will appear in the August 28, 2013 issue of JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association).

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