Research / Precision medicine and personalised prevention

Epigenetics for equitable cardiovascular risk prediction

Using epigenetics as a precision medicine tool for predicting cardiovascular disease outcomes more equitably

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Project Status: Active Funding: $1,311,686 Timeframe: June 2020 – December 2023



Take | Issue

Almost 1 in 3 deaths in New Zealand are caused by cardiovascular disease and around 170,000 New Zealanders are living with the disease.

If we can predict a patient’s risk of future heart disease events, and their response to therapy, it will help to ensure they receive the appropriate treatment.

Whāinga | Aim

This project will develop an advanced precision medicine model using epigenetics to improve cardiovascular risk prediction for individuals.

Epigenetics is a new and growing area of study in disease prediction that looks at changes in our DNA that occur due to environmental factors, such as smoking, nutrition, exercise and stress.

Throughout our lives, our interaction with the environment leaves imprints on our DNA, without changing the underlying genetic code. These reversible changes can be read by our bodies and they reflect each person’s unique past environmental history.

Huarahi I Whāia | Approach

One type of epigenetic alteration, DNA methylation, is becoming widely recognised as a sensitive and specific marker of environmental exposures. Certain highly-specific DNA methylation patterns have been associated with cardiovascular disease.

The research team will assess the DNA methylation profiles of people with a history of coronary heart disease and combine this data with established risk factors and genetic markers to develop an advanced precision medicine risk model.

Research presentation: Developing precise and equitable cardiovascular disease risk prediction tools in Aotearoa New Zealand
Healthier Lives Kōrero Tahi 2024: equity and beyond (13-14 February 2024)

YouTube video

Project Team

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