The UT’s Estonian Genome Center and Finnish researchers discovered novel blood biomarkers related to mortality
The Estonian Genome Center of the University and Tartu and the researchers in the Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland used a new technology to discover four mortality-related biomarkers that may in the future prove a valuable indicator on estimating the health state of people and determining the best treatment.
The survey included more than 10 000 gene donors of the Estonian Genome Center whose blood plasma was used to determine the values of 106 biomarkers, using the Nuclerar Magnetic Resonance (NMR) Spectroscopy technology in the collaborations with Finnish researchers. These biomarkers are mostly concentrations of various substances (proteins, amino acids) in the blood.
The causes of death have been determined for a little more than 2000 now-deceased individuals from the 52 000 gene donors in the UT’s Biobank on the basis of the Estonian Causes of Death Registry. This information is extremely valuable to researchers as it has enabled to compare the data from the registry with samples taken during the person’s lifetime, using an innovative nuclear magnetic resonance technology developed in Finland.
The results were surprising, because an unexpectedly strong connection between four biomarkers and mortality was established. Surprisingly, none of these markers forecast any specific disease, but the similar associations became evident for different disease-related causes of death. The fact that the finding was not a coincidence was proven by an analysis of the same indicators on 8000 individuals in the Finnish Finrisk97 survey. In the survey repeated on Finns, the same strong connection between the four biomarkers and mortality emerged. The associations remained unchanged for Estonian and Finnish cohorts even after removing individuals with a known chronic life-threatening disease from the data.
“Obviously, before it is possible to implement the research results in practice, it is necessary to conduct additional scientific research and study carefully the diseases that these high-risk individuals suffer from and what the awareness of these four markers would give us in addition to what we already know,” commented Krista Fischer, Senior Research Fellow of the UT’s Estonian Genome Center. “At the moment, we cannot claim with full certainty that the high-risk individuals differentiated on the basis of these four markers would not have been under heightened medical attention on other reasons, but there is plenty of reason to continue deeper research into the subject,” said Fischer.
Additional information: Senior Research Fellow in the Estonian Genome Center of the University of Tartu, 737 4042, 515 3679, e-mail:krista.fischer [ät] ut.ee.