London, Jan 11 (ANI): British scientists have uncovered the gene that regulates our heartbeat.
The discovery of the "pacemaker gene" could lead to new drug treatments to avoid heart attacks and disease, say experts.
A person's heartbeat is controlled by electrical signals, which start in one central place - the heart's pacemaker - and travel around the heart muscle.
And now, a team at Imperial College London have found the gene that controls those electrical signals and thus the rhythm of the heart.
The researchers claimed that the damage or mutations to the gene - known as SCN10A - increase the risk of heart disease.
The researchers believe that the finding could help them to understand how the body's heartbeat is controlled and could ultimately help them come up with new treatments for heart rhythm disturbances.
It is also hoped that studying different variations of the gene in different people will help doctors discover why some people are more susceptible to heart trouble than others.
"Genetic variation is like the two sides of a coin. One side is associated with increased risk, the other with decreased risk. We have identified a gene that influences heart rhythm, and people with different variants of the gene will have increased or decreased risks of developing heart rhythm problems," the Telegraph quoted Dr John Chambers, lead author of the study as saying.
In the study, the researchers analysed the genetic make-up of almost 20,000 people to look for genetic factors influencing the heartbeat.
They studied the electrocardiogram (ECG, a recording of the heartbeat) of each person, and measured the time taken for electrical signals to travel to different parts of the heart.
They found that variation in the gene SCN10A was linked with slow and irregular heart rhythms, including risk of ventricular fibrillation. (ANI)