Page last updated at 21:15 GMT, Thursday, 18 March 2010

Scientists find key genes which control blood-clotting

Elderly patient with nurse
The findings could help patients who have suffered strokes

Scientists in Edinburgh have identified key genes which could help shed light on the causes of deep vein thrombosis and some types of stroke.

The Edinburgh University team has discovered three genes which control how long it takes blood to clot.

It is hoped this could help to improve the understanding of causes of blood-clotting disorders.

Research leader Professor Ian Deary said the discovery was a first in the genetics of blood clotting.

The study looked for associations between half a million genetic markers and the time taken for blood to clot.

We are now following up these findings to establish their clinical significance
Prof Ian Deary
University of Edinburgh

The findings showed three particular genes are responsible for a substantial amount of the variation in speed of blood clotting in different healthy people.

Research teams working on conditions such as heart attacks, thrombosis and stroke, will be encouraged to study the role of the genes.

The participants in the study are a group of children born in the Lothian area in 1921 and 1936, who took part in national psychometric intelligence tests at the age of about 11.

They are being studied by Prof Deary and his team at Edinburgh University's centre for cognitive ageing and cognitive epidemiology, in order to find clues to healthy ageing.

Exciting discovery

Prof Deary said: "The team is excited to have contributed this first in the genetics of blood clotting.

"Within the team we are lucky to have experts in medicine, genetics and blood coagulation, who helped enormously in appreciating just how big a discovery this was.

"We are now following up these findings to establish their clinical significance."

Dr Lorna Houlihan, from the University of Edinburgh, carried out the analysis of the data with assistance from experts in Glasgow and Brisbane in Australia.

She said: "This is an exciting genetic discovery, especially as so few genes account for such a large effect."

The results are published in the American Journal of Human Genetics.

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