A faster, cheaper method to identify genes that cause dyslipidemia

Researchers at the University of Western Ontario have developed a new sequencing method to detect genes responsible for abnormal lipid levels in a variety of patients.

Christopher Johansen

Christopher T. Johansen and colleagues designed a targeted resequencing panel, which they call LipidSeq, that looks for genetic problems that can cause lipid abnormalities. In a paper appearing in the April issue of the Journal of Lipid Research, they report their results after using the panel to look for responsible genes in 84 patients with lipid abnormalities and comparing the results to those obtained by standard Sanger sequencing, the most widely used method to sequence DNA since its development in 1977.
The authors report that there potentially are several major benefits to using LipidSeq. The first is speed: The researchers analyzed 12 DNA samples in a week using LipidSeq, whereas it would have taken much longer with Sanger sequencing. Second is overall cost: A LipidSeq sample costs about half (less than $500) of what a comparable sample for the Sanger method would (around $1,000). Additionally, the samples analyzed by LipidSeq were analyzed for 23 dyslipidemia genes and 50 other metabolic genes — a targeted approach revealing much more information than those analyzed by the Sanger method, which analyzed only three candidate hypercholesterolemia genes.
“Targeted (next-generation sequencing) may represent a more economical, focused and accurate approach for clinical resequencing in monogenic dyslipidemias,” the authors wrote. “These advantages, when considered with the strong concordance in variant detection rates with Sanger sequencing suggest that LipidSeq has the potential to effectively replace Sanger sequencing in the clinic.”
While Johansen et al. admit LipidSeq will detect more genetic variants that will require further investigation, they say that as more is learned about the genomic variation in dyslipidemia patients more insight will be gained about the different subtypes of dyslipidemia, and hopefully this will drive development of targeted therapies.

Mary ChangMary L. Chang (mchang@asbmb.org) is publications manager for the Journal of Lipid Research and Molecular & Cellular Proteomics.

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