Newcastle University research finds baby heart disease gene
A gene associated with a form of congenital heart disease found in newborn babies has been discovered by researchers.
The team, led by Professor Bernard Keavney from Newcastle University, analysed more than 2,000 children born with "a hole in the heart".
Mr Keavney said larger studies would be necessary but it was hoped finding the link would aid treatment.
The British Heart Foundation (BHF) said the results were "important".
Staff from universities in Manchester, Nottingham, Oxford and Leicester were also involved.
Mr Keavney said finding the gene was "an important step forward".
"We found that a common genetic variation near a gene called Msx1 was strongly associated with the risk of a particular type of congenital heart disease called atrial septal defect or hole in the heart," he said.
The research, which was part-funded by the BHF, is being published in the Nature Genetics journal.
Dr Shannon Amoils, senior research advisor for the BHF, said: "Most babies born with a heart defect have a much brighter future now than they would have had in the 1960s when the BHF was founded.
"But, we still need to fund much more research like this, to better understand the fundamental causes of congenital heart defects."