Matrix Therapeutics Ltd., of Manchester, UK, has begun a clinical trial of DO2, a product for diagnosing cardiac hypertrophy, or enlargement of the heart, one of the key risk factors for cardiovascular failure. This is currently diagnosed using imaging techniques such as echocardiography and magnetic resonance imaging, which are time consuming and expensive.

The test involves measuring the product of a gene which is active in the neonatal period when the heart is developing, repressed in adult life, and appears to be reactivated in the development of cardiac hypertrophy. Matrix believes such a diagnostic could be used to provide a regular, physician's office check-up for the onset of hypertrophy in patients being treated for hypertension.

The study is designed to assess the relationship between cardiac mass index, as measured by an echocardiogram, and the level of the gene product in blood from patients with hypertension and a control group.

- Nuala Moran

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