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How pathogenic gene variants lead to heart failure

Cardiomyopathy is not a uniform disease. Rather, individual genetic defects lead to heart failure in different ways, an international consortium reports in Science.

The molecular and cellular mechanisms that lead to heart failure in people with cardiomyopathy are determined by the specific gene variant that each patient carries, according to newly published research based on the first comprehensive single-cell analysis of cardiac cells from healthy and failing hearts.

The work, reported in the journal Science, was conducted by 53 scientists from six countries in North America, Europe, and Asia.

The study shows that cell type compositions and gene activation profiles change according to the genetic variants. The investigators say the findings can inform the design of targeted therapies that take into account each patient’s underlying gene defect responsible for their particular form of cardiomyopathy.

The team studied 880,000 single heart cells

Examining the genes activated in about 880,000 single cells from 61 failing hearts and 18 healthy donor hearts as reference was a complex endeavor which required an interdisciplinary team. The organs were procured by the Brigham and Woman’s Hospital in Boston, USA, University of Alberta in Canada, the Heart and Diabetes Center North Rhine-Westphalia in Bad Oeynhausen, Ruhr University Bochum in Germany and Imperial College London, UK.

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