Researchers report that they have found that individuals with a specific variant of the gene PHACTR1 are at reduced risk of cervical artery dissection. The findings stem from a study that encompassed researchers from Royal Holloway, University of London, and an international team from across the US and Europe.

The study appears in the journal Nature Genetics.

 A news release from the University of Royal Holloway London reports that the findings may lead to new treatments and prevention strategies for the disease, which it characterizes as a major cause of stroke in young adults.

The release adds that the same gene variant has been spotlighted as a protector against migraines and impacts heart attack risk.

Professor Pankaj Sharma, School of Biological Sciences at Royal Holloway, emphasizes that the research is “an important breakthrough. Our findings provide us with a greater understanding of how this region of the genome appears to influence key vascular functions, which could have major implications for the treatment of these severe and disabling conditions.”

During the study, the release notes that researchers from around the world screened the entire genome of 1,400 patients with cervical artery dissection, along with 14,400 individuals without the disease.

Sharma states that further genetic analyses and worldwide collaborations, such as the current study, offer hope for identifying the underlying mechanisms that cause stroke.

[Source(s): Science Daily, University of Royal Holloway London]