AI finds Genes Linked to Heart Failure

Source Reference

Scientists at Queen Mary University of London have applied AI to identify patients with risk for heart failure, enhancing earlier identification and appropriate measure for these high-risk individuals.

UK Biobank

The research team applied artificial intelligence (AI) approach to scan cardiac MRI images of 17,000 healthy UK Biobank volunteers. In fact, they observed that genetics was a factor 22-39% of time in relation to variation in the size and function of the left ventricle (LV). This essential chamber in the heart that pumps blood to the rest of the body. Its pumping ability and size of the left ventricle can lead to heart failure.

Scientific Publication

The team published their findings in the journal Circulation.  There one can read more about the role of genetic determinants and the propensity toward structural heart disease. Besides, the researchers identified 14 specific places associated with the dimensions, structure, and function of the left ventricle. Moreover, they observed genes that manage the early development of heart chambers and the contraction of heart muscle.

Quote from Lead Researcher

“It is exciting that the state-of-the-art AI techniques now allow rapid and accurate measurement of the tens of thousands of heart MRI images required for genetic studies, said lead researcher Dr. Nay Aung from Queen Mary University of London in a press release.  

“The findings open up the possibility of earlier identification of those at risk of heart failure and of new targeted treatments; the genetic risk scores established from this study could be tested in future studies to create an integrated and personalized risk assessment tool for heart failure.”

“The AI tool allowed us to analyze images in a fraction of the time it would otherwise have taken; this should translate to time and cost savings for the NHS and could potentially improve the efficiency of patient care,” he added.

Earlier Research

“Previous studies have shown that differences in the size and function of the heart are partly influenced by genes but we have not really understood the extent of that genetic influence,” explained co-investigator Steffen Petersen, Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at Queen Mary University of London.

He continued by saying the following: “This study has shown that several genes known to be important in heart failure also appear to regulate the heart size and function in healthy people.”

“That understanding of the genetic basis of heart structure and function in the general population improves our knowledge of how heart failure evolves.”

Genetics and Measurements

“The study provides a blueprint for future genetic research involving the heart MRI images in the UK Biobank and beyond,” he added.

Co-investigator Patricia Munroe, Professor of Molecular Medicine at Queen Mary University of London explained: “High fidelity MRI measures combined with genetics is reassuringly validating many known heart structural proteins.”

“Our work also finds new genes from more heritable functional measures that are associated with ventricular remodeling and fibrosis,” she added.

“Further genetic studies including analyses of additional heart MRI chambers are expected to provide deeper insights into heart biology.” 

How to handle specific genes

Indeed, it would be very useful to identify specific genes that determine the development of the left ventricule. Hence, progenitor cell therapy (stem cells) and emerging molecular genetic techniques may be used for these genetic anomalies.

In conclusion, the UK Biobank database is increasing, the hope is that more genes for cardiac abnormalities will be identified in the future. Finally, UK Biobank indicated that it will sequence the whole genome of their 450,000 participants following the initial 50,000 participants.

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