|Vol. 22, No. 17||September 15, 2000|
New Gene Linked to Heart Muscle Disease
By JEFF JENKINS
Baylor College of Medicine
A new gene responsible for dilated cardiomyopathy, a common heart muscle disease, has been identified by researchers at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.
DCM is a leading cause of heart failure in children and adults, and the most common disease requiring heart transplantation, with an estimated cost of more than $10 billion annually in the United States.
The identification of the DCM-causing gene, called delta-sarcoglycan, has led scientists to believe that an understanding of the function of the heart and other muscles is closely related.
"This finding could allow us to diagnose patients before they become sick, treat them earlier and improve survival," said Dr. Jeffrey A. Towbin, a professor of pediatric cardiology at Baylor and director of the Heart Failure and Transplantation Unit at Texas Children's Hospital. "This also could help us to develop new treatments."
Study findings were published in the September issue of The Journal of Clinical Investigation. Baylor researchers believe that their study identifies the portion of the heart at greatest risk for DCM, and suggest that studying this "final common pathway" may help to identify other genes which could cause the disease.
The research also suggests that patients with DCM should be evaluated for muscle function, and that neurologists caring for patients with muscle disease should be aware of the potential for heart muscle disease as well.
Towbin's collaborators on the study included Dr. Shinichi Tsubata, a visiting cardiologist from Japan, and Baylor scientists Karla Bowles, Neil E. Bowles, Matteo Vatta and Carmelann Zintz. Also involved were Dr. Jack Titus of the Jesse Edwards Cardiac Registry in Minneapolis, Minn., and Dr. Linda Muhonen, a cardiologist with the Orange County Children's Hospital in Orange, Calif.
©2006 Texas Medical Center