• Queen Mary University of London
  • Barts Health NHS
  • Bradford NHS
  • Manchester Uni

S00050: Polygenic risk - a focus on South Asians

Institute: Broad Institute

Investigator: Amit Khera

South Asians are known to develop heart attacks at much higher rates than most other groups, but the causes of this difference are not well understood. Although South Asians make up 23% of the world’s population and number over 5 million in the United States, few studies have focused on this group. Is the higher risk of heart attack in South Asians due to risk factors we already know about – like diabetes – or are new risk factors more important for this group?

Understanding how things like lifestyle, genetics, upbringing, etc contribute to a person’s risk of having a heart attack is important because it helps doctors and patients make more informed choices. It’s important to include information about genetic and nongenetic factors. In the U.S., the most commonly used prediction tool for heart disease was developed without including any South Asians. Fewer than 1% of participants in genetic studies to date have been South Asian.

Our group has created new tools that predict risk of disease by looking at millions of places where one person’s genetic code differs from others, but these have also been based mostly on data from white individuals and perform less well in other groups.

In this project we will developing a way of predicting a person’s risk for heart attack specifically for South Asians. We will use genetic information available from large studies of South Asians to develop a polygenic score. We will then test how well it identifies people at high risk of heart disease. Successful completion of this research will improve our ability to predict risk of heart attack in South Asians.