Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Supercomputers solve riddle of congenital heart defects

Date:
August 13, 2012
Source:
University of Copenhagen
Summary:
With the aid of pioneering technology, Danish scientists have charted several of the complex biological processes behind congenital heart defects. In time, the research promises to provide better ways to prevent, diagnose and cure heart disease.

Both heredity and environment play a role in congenital heart defects, but exactly how various risk factors influence the development of the heart during pregnancy has been a mystery -- until now.

With the aid of a supercomputer, an international, interdisciplinary research team has analysed millions of data points. This has allowed the scientists to show that a huge number of different risk factors -- for example in the form of genetic defects -- influence the molecular biology of heart development.

"The discovery of a biological common denominator among many thousands of risk factors is an important step in health research, which in time can improve the prevention and diagnosis of congenital heart defects," explains Professor Lars Allan Larsen from the Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, University of Copenhagen.

Research results have recently been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The project was supported by the Danish Heart Association, Novo Nordisk Foundation and Danish National Research Foundation, among others.

Tailored treatment in future

Scientists have analysed several thousand genetic mutations and environmental risk factors associated with heart malformations in the hope of finding a pattern or common factor.

"Our investigations show that many different genetic factors together with environmental factors can influence the same biological system and cause disease. The results are also interesting in a broader perspective, because it is probable that similar interactions are also valid for diseases such as schizophrenia, autism, diabetes and cancer," says Kasper Lage, Director of Bioinformatics at Harvard University.

Thus the results of the study give scientists an idea of how different combinations of variations in hereditary material can dispose the individual to disease: "This is interesting if we want to make treatment more efficient by tailoring an optimal approach for each individual patient," adds Professor Sψren Brunak from the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Protein Research, University of Copenhagen.

Complex pattern creation provides new knowledge

When the international research team brought a systems biology perspective to bear on the huge data mass, they could see previously unknown and complex correlations between known risk factors and heart biology:

"Systems biology is a relatively new and holistic research field that uses bioinformatics and supercomputers to investigate highly complex biological problems. For example, we know of a number of genetic mutations that cause heart defects -- but it is first now we have been able to show which biological systems in the heart are influenced by the mutations in question," explains Professor Lars Allan Larsen.

The research approach of systems biology can lead to surprising and pioneering conclusions, but the work is difficult and requires a great degree of interdisciplinary collaboration. In this case team members include genetic scientists, cardiac specialists and experts in bioinformatics from universities, hospitals and industry.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Copenhagen. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Copenhagen. "Supercomputers solve riddle of congenital heart defects." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 August 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120813173301.htm>.
University of Copenhagen. (2012, August 13). Supercomputers solve riddle of congenital heart defects. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120813173301.htm
University of Copenhagen. "Supercomputers solve riddle of congenital heart defects." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120813173301.htm (accessed October 21, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

CDC Revamps Ebola Guidelines After Criticism

CDC Revamps Ebola Guidelines After Criticism

Newsy (Oct. 21, 2014) — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have issued new protocols for healthcare workers interacting with Ebola patients. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
WHO: Ebola Vaccine Trials to Start a in January

WHO: Ebola Vaccine Trials to Start a in January

AP (Oct. 21, 2014) — Tens of thousands of doses of experimental Ebola vaccines could be available for "real-world" testing in West Africa as soon as January as long as they are deemed safe in soon to start trials, the World Health Organization said Tuesday. (Oct. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

Newsy (Oct. 21, 2014) — A medical team has for the first time given a man the ability to walk again after transplanting cells from his brain onto his severed spinal cord. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
CDC Issues New Ebola Guidelines for Health Workers

CDC Issues New Ebola Guidelines for Health Workers

Reuters - US Online Video (Oct. 21, 2014) — The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has set up new guidelines for health workers taking care of patients infected with Ebola. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins