Researchers at Yale have discovered genetic factors that could help doctors identify people at risk of developing a brain aneurysm.
Murat Günel, professor of neurosurgery at Yale, has been trying to find the genetic basis of brain aneurysms for the past fifteen years.
He and his partners have collected DNA samples from over ten thousand patients from all over the world.
What they found was that a certain genetic variation in chromosomes increased the risk of having a brain aneurysm, a cardiovascular disease which can cause a stroke.
"This research, number one, gives us at least a way to identify individuals who are at increased risk of forming an aneurysm. And number two, and I think equally importantly, to be able to come up with new treatments, you need to understand the biology of the disease, and for the first time we really have a real glimpse into why these aneurysms form, through the identification of these genes."
Günel says aneurysms mostly occur in individuals between 40 and 60 year-old. Though some risk factors are known -- smoking, high blood pressure, family history, or even being female -- Gunel says it's been impossible to identify people at risk of forming an aneurysm.
He says confirming these findings will allow his team to develop new, less invasive ways of treating brain aneurysms, and allow doctors to identify the individuals at risk with a simple blood test.
According the Brain Aneurysm Foundation, about 1 in 50 people in the United States have unruptured brain aneurysms, and about 40 percent of ruptured aneurysms are fatal.