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Longer Telomeres Linked to Better Cardiac Function, Decreased Heart Failure Risk

Longer leukocyte telomeres are linked to better cardiac function and decreased risk of heart failure, according to a study appearing in JAMA Cardiology. Leukocyte telomere length reflects cellular age though also varies between people, and previous studies have indicated that shorter leukocyte telomeres are associated with increased risk of coronary artery disease, but the link to heart failure has been less clear. In their new study, researchers from the University of Leicester and elsewhere examined leukocyte telomere length among more than 40,000 individuals in the UK Biobank who had undergone cardiovascular magnetic resonance scanning in addition to providing genetic samples. They found that longer telomeres were associated with higher left ventricular mass, larger global ventricular size and volume, and higher ventricular and atrial stroke volumes as well as with a lower risk of heart failure, even after taking traditional risk factors into consideration. Further, a Mendelian randomization analysis indicated there was a causal association between leukocyte telomere length and some of those measures of cardiac structure and function. "Further investigations into the prognostic relevance of LTL in adverse cardiac remodeling and the related mechanistic pathways could provide insights into the novel risk stratification approaches and therapeutic targets for [heart failure]," the researchers write.

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.