VA study on cholesterol genetics could lead to new treatments for heart disease, diabetes


In the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) drive to help improve lives of veterans through health care discovery and innovation, a team led by VA researchers recently identified three genetic mutations that govern cholesterol levels, which could lead to the development of new drugs to treat cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
Detailed results of the study can be found in the Oct. 1 issue of “Nature Genetics,” a scientific journal.
“This is fantastic news, not just for veterans, but for all Americans suffering from these diseases,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. “VA researchers have been improving the lives of veterans and all Americans through health care discovery and innovation for decades. Their groundbreaking research has resulted in three Nobel prizes and numerous other national and international honors.”
Using data from VA’s Million Veteran Program (MVP), the researchers found that three genes — PDE3B, PCSK9 and ANGPTL4 — could be targets for treatment of heart disease, abdominal aortic aneurysm and diabetes, respectively. VA research showed that those with specific mutations to the genes had better cholesterol and triglyceride levels than those without the mutations.
The PDE3B mutation appears to protect against heart disease. A mutation in PCSK9 seems to decrease the risk not only of heart disease, but also abdominal aortic aneurysm — a condition in which the aorta is enlarged, which could lead it to rupture and cause life-threatening bleeding. The ANGPTL4 mutation was linked to lower risk of type 2 diabetes. The research was supported by VA, the National Institutes of Health and Stanford’s Department of Medicine.
MVP is a national, voluntary research program funded by VA’s Office of Research and Development. MVP partners with veterans receiving care in the Veterans Health Administration to study how genes affect health. As of late September 2018, MVP had enrolled more than 700,000 veterans. It is already one of the world’s largest databases of health and genomic information.
The “Nature Genetics” publication is one of the first major papers describing scientific findings from MVP. The publication highlights the power of researchers having access to data from large numbers of individuals.
In this instance, researchers were able to identify several novel genetic factors that affect people’s blood lipid (cholesterol and triglyceride) levels. Such findings may lead to new approaches to diagnose people at risk for cardiovascular disease, as well as identify candidate therapeutic targets.
Veterans Day breakfast
The Veterans Day breakfast will be held on Nov. 12 at the Ross Aragon Community Center. All veterans and family members are urged to attend. You will be glad you did.
Presentation of flag-folding service will be at 9 a.m.; anyone in uniform please join us. This will be followed by a luncheon at the American Legion Post at noon. A short ceremony marking Veterans Day will precede the potluck lunch.
For further information, please contact the Archuleta County Veteran Services Office.
Services available for
local veterans
Pine Ridge Extended Care Center is VA-certified, which means there are services available for our local veterans. These services have eligibility requirements and specific programs. For more information, please contact this office or Pine Ridge.
For more information
The office of the Archuleta County veterans service officer (VSO) provides assistance to qualified military veterans, and their families, or a veteran’s survivors, in applying to and in obtaining VA program assistance, benefits and claims.
This assistance is provided within the guidelines, policies and procedures established by the Colorado Department of Military and Veteran Affairs. This is a mandated program of the state of Colorado.
For further information on VA benefits, please call or stop by the Veterans Service Office, located at the Pagosa Springs Senior Center in the Ross Aragon Community Center on Hot Springs Boulevard.
The best way to contact me is to set up an appointment, for either at your home or in the office, so I can schedule a specific time in order to answer and assist each veteran in Archuleta County.
The office number is 264-4013, fax number is 264-4014, cell number is 946-3590 and email is The office is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Bring a DD Form 214 (discharge) for applications to VA programs or benefits for which the veteran may be entitled to enroll, and for filing in the Archuleta County Veteran Services Office.
Always leave me a message and phone number to contact you.
Veterans’ groups
The following veterans groups meet in Pagosa Springs:
• American Legion Post 108: second Wednesday of the month at 6 p.m., 287 Hermosa St.
• American Legion Post 108 Ladies Auxiliary: first Tuesday of the month at 4 p.m., 287 Hermosa St.
• Veterans for Veterans: Every Tuesday at 10 a.m., St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church.
• Combat Veterans PTSD Group: Every other Tuesday at noon, Community United Methodist Church, 434 Lewis St. Contact Kevin Kelly at (505) 699-0824.
• Women’s Group of Spouses of Veterans: First and third Wednesdays at 5:30 p.m., Dr. Sharon Carter’s office. Contact Charlotte at 903-9690.
Important numbers
• 799-VETS,
• Durango VA Outpatient Clinic: 247-2214.
• Farmington VA Center: (505) 326-4383.
• VAMC Albuquerque, N.M.: (800) 465-8262.
• VAMC Albuquerque, N.M., emergency notification: (800) 465-8262, ext. 5739.
• The Veterans Crisis Line offers free, confidential support to veterans in crisis, as well as their family and friends 24/7/365. Call (800) 273-8255, chat online or text 838255.