Josie Jakovac

Newly discovered gene could see the end of heart disease

Heart disease is a problem that runs unchecked in this country. However, one recent advancement could see it gone forever.

 

 

MeXis, a newly discovered gene, has sent ripples through the scientific community. Research tended by the University of California suggests that it may be the missing biological link for the prevention of heart disease.

With one Australian dying every 12 minutes from heart, stroke and blood vessel diseases, this breakthrough couldn’t have come at more fitting and crucial time.

The biomedical solution to this issue has gotten scientists’ blood-pumping over the last 24 hours.

MeXis is an example of a “selfish” gene, one that doesn’t make a protein product thus is presumed to have no function. However, these ‘unhelpful genes’ have now been shown to actually produce a special class of molecules: non-coding RNAs (IncRNAs) which are just as vital as proteins. Perhaps here lies a message for all parents with adult children who still live at home: just because we may appear unhelpful or bereft of useful functions, doesn’t mean we are ‘selfish’. We’re actually more useful than it appears… according to science.

 

With one Australian dying every 12 minutes from heart, stroke and blood vessel diseases, this breakthrough couldn’t have come at more fitting and crucial time.

 

In the study, researchers found that mice lacking MeXis had almost twice as many blockages in their blood vessels when compared to mice with normal MeXis levels. Likewise, boosting MeXis made cells more effective at removing excess cholesterol.

“The idea that lncRNAs are directly involved in very common ailments such as plaque buildup within arteries offers new ways of thinking about how to treat and diagnose heart disease,” said Dr. Tamer Sallam, the study’s lead author. “There is likely a good reason why genes that make RNAs rather than proteins exist.”

The next stage of experimentation seeks to find the best way to alter levels of MeXis, with the hope of perfecting a targeted therapy for cardiovascular disease.

Josie Jakovac

Josie Jakovac is studying B Commerce (Dalyell Scholars)/B Laws at the University of Sydney. With a big mouth, a passion for people and a love for current affairs, she’s never one to shy away from a lively debate. When she’s not sipping coffee, mulling over textbooks and rapidly typing up her next article, you’ll find her beach-hopping and making music.

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