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RESEARCH BY JACKSON LABORATORY TOPS HARVARD HEALTH LETTER'S ANNUAL LIST

 /ADVANCE/ BAR HARBOR, Maine, Feb. 15 /PRNewswire/ -- Topping the Harvard Health Letter's annual list of the most important medical advances from the past year is heart disease research done by Jackson Laboratory researchers and colleagues.
 Location of the atherosclerosis gene (called ATHS) was first reported in January 1992 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by Drs. Patsy Nishina, Juergen Naggert, John Johnson and Ronald Krauss. Nishina and Naggert are researchers at the Jackson Laboratory. Johnson is at the Children's Hospital Research Institute in Oakland, Calif., and Krauss is from the Lawrence Berkley Laboratory in Berkeley, Calif.
 The Harvard Health Letter is associated with the Harvard Medical School. Polled are members of the Health Letter's 24-member physician advisory board.
 According to the Health Letter, "Scientists realized in 1986 that in some families where heart disease runs rampant, affected members consistently have low levels of "good" HDL cholesterol, elevated triglycerides, and lots of small, dense particles of LDL (LDL, always bad, is even worse when it takes this form.)"
 Although researchers have not yet isolated the actual gene, they know that it lies very close to the locus that codes for the LDL receptor (which is altered in people with other inherited forms of atherosclerosis) and near the insulin-receptor gene (which is involved in some forms of diabetes).
 "As many as one in three people in the general population may carry a defect in the ATHS gene," reports the Health Letter. "If these individuals could be identified before atherosclerosis sets in, a great deal of coronary artery disease -- the leading killer of both men and women -- could theoretically be prevented. Once the gene is in hand, researchers should be able to develop a predictive test, as well as to produce genetically engineered mice that could be used in comparing the benefits of various diet, drug, or exercise regimens."
 "We are continuing this research at the Jackson Laboratory and hope it will lead to a molecular diagnosis tool that will identify people at risk," Nishina said.
 The Harvard Health Letter publishes current clinical and medical information for the general public, and is the oldest personal health letter in the nation with a readership of more than 300,000.
 According to editor Patricia Thomas, "our objective is to give a year-end perspective on research achievements. From a list of 29 key research publications around the world, our 24 advisors voted 'A gene for atherosclerosis located,' as tops."
 The advisory board, composed of Harvard faculty members who practice and conduct research in a wide range of specialties, chose six basic discoveries in science and four in clinical research as the ten most important medical advances for 1992.
 -0- 2/15/93/0600
 /CONTACT: Grady Holloway or Jeff Witherly of The Jackson Laboratory, 207-288-3371/


CO: The Jackson Laboratory ST: Maine IN: MTC SU:

CH -- NE001 -- 6015 02/12/93 08:00 EST
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Date:Feb 12, 1993
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