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Stroke Linked to Gene

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REYKJAVIK, Iceland, Sep 22, 2003 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- Icelandic researchers have identified a gene that in some people gives them a three to five times greater risk of stroke.

This genetic risk factor is as large or larger than the environmental risk factors like high blood pressure, high cholesterol and smoking, said Dr. Kari Stefansson, the chief executive of Decode, a company based in Reykjavik, Iceland.

The research was published in the journal Nature.

The new gene, identified by a team led by Dr. Solveig Gretarsdottir, had not previously been implicated in stroke, and its detection may open new insights into the mechanisms of the disease, the New York Times reported.

Stefansson said that the new gene makes an enzyme that is a good target for drugs.

However, while Dr. Jonathan Rosand, a stroke specialist at Massachusetts General Hospital, called the research, "highly, highly significant for the stroke field" but unlikely to yield new treatments any time soon and needs to be confirmed by other researchers in other populations.

Copyright 2003 by United Press International.

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