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Genetic Risk Factors for Hypertension Can Help Identify Those at Risk for Cardiovascular Disease

Genetic factors contributing to hypertension might also be helpful in identifying people at heightened risk for cardiovascular disease, even in those with normal blood pressure, a study appearing in this week's JAMA Cardiology finds. Hypertension is a major cardiovascular disease risk factor, but variability in measured blood pressure is a key clinical challenge for optimal management. To investigate whether the genetic factors that drive high blood pressure can help inform cardiovascular disease management, a team led by researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital examined data on more than 331,000 middle-aged participants in the UK Biobank to evaluate incident cardiovascular disease using a blood pressure polygenic risk score, independent of measured blood pressures and the use of antihypertensive medications. They find that genetically predicted blood pressure risk was associated with cardiovascular risk, identifying one in 10 individuals with normal measured blood pressure who had comparable cardiovascular disease risk as those with untreated hypertension. The results, the study's authors write, suggest that blood pressure polygenic risk scores may be used to complement measured blood pressure to achieve earlier and targeted cardiovascular disease prevention.

The Scan

Positive Framing of Genetic Studies Can Spark Mistrust Among Underrepresented Groups

Researchers in Human Genetics and Genomics Advances report that how researchers describe genomic studies may alienate potential participants.

Small Study of Gene Editing to Treat Sickle Cell Disease

In a Novartis-sponsored study in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers found that a CRISPR-Cas9-based treatment targeting promoters of genes encoding fetal hemoglobin could reduce disease symptoms.

Gut Microbiome Changes Appear in Infants Before They Develop Eczema, Study Finds

Researchers report in mSystems that infants experienced an enrichment in Clostridium sensu stricto 1 and Finegoldia and a depletion of Bacteroides before developing eczema.

Acute Myeloid Leukemia Treatment Specificity Enhanced With Stem Cell Editing

A study in Nature suggests epitope editing in donor stem cells prior to bone marrow transplants can stave off toxicity when targeting acute myeloid leukemia with immunotherapy.