Genetic tic predicts statin response

Will statins soon be targeted at patients with a specific genetic variation? If some new research bears out, maybe so. Celera Group-Applera Corp., the folks who won the race to map the human genome, say they've identified a genetic variation that not only increases risk of heart attack, but also the chances that statins would prevent it.

Dubbed KIF6, the variation is present in nearly 60 percent of the population, and carriers showed a risk of heart attacks, strokes, or death from heart disease as much as 55 percent higher than those who don't have it. Celera plans to roll out a genetic test for the variation.

Celera's research has to be verified before statin therapy is linked with it. But in studies the company analyzed, the differences between carriers' response and non-carriers' is clear. Carriers treated with Pravachol had 37 percent fewer heart attacks compared with placebo-takers, for instance; non-carriers had 14 percent fewer attacks than those on placebo did. And--in a finding that could fuel debate over the direct link between lowering LDL and preventing heart attacks--the prevention benefits weren't related to how much a statin lowered cholesterol.

- check out the press release from Celera
- read the article in the Wall Street Journal

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