The study of blood cells is essential to understand processes leading to heart attack or stroke. This project will use algorithms to analyse cell properties from images of blood cells from 30,000 healthy people. By identifying overlap between the regions of the human genome that affect these measured properties and regions known to influence the risk of cardiovascular disease, the output of this work aims to improve understanding of blood related risk factors, and possible treatments, for heart attacks and strokes.
One of six British Heart Foundation funded projects.
Explaining the science
Most heart attacks and strokes occur when a clot forms inside a blood vessel blocking blood flow. Clots are formed when tiny blood cells called platelets become active and clump together. This is made more likely by damage to vessel walls, caused over time by the invasion of white blood cells searching for fat particles. The study of blood cells is thus essential to understand processes leading to heart attack or stroke.
To develop algorithms to measure quantitative properties (such as granularity, shape, and structure) of platelets and white blood cells by analysing images of blood cells from 30,000 healthy people, collected for the University of Cambridge's COMPARE study.
The plan will then be to search for regions of the human genome where genetic variation influences these measured cell properties and check for overlap with more than 100 genomic locations known to influence the risk of heart attack or stroke. Overlap may indicate a process occurring in the corresponding blood cell type causes the genetic association with disease. Clues about such processes may lie in databases of genomic regions influencing the levels of biochemicals in blood.
The results produced should improve understanding of blood related risk factors and help identify molecular targets for the pharmacological prevention or treatment of cardiovascular diseases.
William Astle, [email protected]