Study sheds light on the mechanism of rheumatic heart disease

Antibody genes influence one’s change of developing rheumatic heart disease (RHD), according to a study published online 11 May 2017 in the scientific journal Nature Communications.

RHD is a medical condition in which permanent damage to heart valves is caused by rheumatic fever. Rheumatic fever is triggered by infection with bacteria called group A streptococci. Treatment with antibiotics may prevent and control rheumatic fever. RHD is the most prevalent acquired heart disease in children in many countries of the world, particularly in the Pacific and in Fiji. The disease can lead to fibrosis of heart valves, crippling valvular heart disease, heart failure and death.

In this work, researchers from the University of Oxford, Fiji National University, Brigham Young University, University of Melbourne, Utah Valley University, and several other institutions set out to determine why some people are vulnerable to RHD. Genetic analyses of samples from more than 3000 people revealed genetic differences in the code for a certain antibody between people with and without RHD. The discovery is unexpected and significant because of the fact that scientists studying inflammatory or autoimmune disorder have not paid much attention in recent years.

Findings of this study now sheds light on the role of antibody genes in RHD, which is considered a neglected disease. Disability and death resulting from RHD constitute a great public health problem. A better understanding of the mechanism of the fatal disease may aid in development of drugs for RHD patients. (Cusabio offers PODXL Monoclonal Antibody.)

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