FYI from the NHLBI Index
September 2008: Vol. 9, Issue 2
In the News
News from Capitol Hill
President Signs Newborn Screening Legislation
On April 24, the President signed into law the Newborn Screening Saves Lives Act (Public Law 110-204) to establish new
programs through the Health Resources and Services Administration for education and outreach on the availability and
importance of newborn screening. The new law establishes an Interagency Coordinating Committee on Newborn and Child
screening that will include the NIH and authorizes the NIH to continue to work with the Secretary of the Department of
Health and Human Services to carry out, coordinate, and expand research in newborn screening.
President Signs Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act
On May 21, 2008, the President signed into law H.R. 493 (P.L. 110-233), a measure that prohibits employers from requiring
genetic tests or using genetic information when making personnel decisions and prohibits insurers from using genetic
information to set premiums or make decisions on eligibility for coverage.
Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2008 Provides Additional Funding for NIH
On June 30, the President signed into law H.R. 2642 (P.L. 110-252), a Supplemental Appropriations Act, which
provided additional funds for the 2008 fiscal year to support ongoing military operations as well as some domestic
programs. The supplemental appropriation included $150 million for the NIH.
Pulmonary Fibrosis Legislation Introduced
On July 22, Representative Brian Baird (D-WA) introduced H.R. 6567, the Pulmonary Fibrosis Research Enhancement Act.
The legislation would encourage the NHLBI Director to expand, intensify, and coordinate Institute activities with respect
to pulmonary fibrosis (PF) research. It also would require a national summit be held every three years to provide a
detailed overview of current PF research activities at the NIH and to discuss potential collaborations related to PF
among the NIH, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and other Federal agencies.
Pulmonary Hypertension Legislation Introduced
On July 22, Representative Kevin Brady (R-TX) introduced H.R. 6568, the Tom Lantos Pulmonary Hypertension
Research and Education Act of 2008. The measure would encourage the Secretary of HHS to work with the Directors
of NIH and NHLBI to continue research on and expand understanding of the causes of pulmonary hypertension and to find a cure.
Recent Advance from the NHLBI
A Common Genetic Variant Is Associated with Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm and Intracranial Aneurysm
Abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) is a common condition with potentially lethal consequences. Ruptured AAAs and complications
after surgical repair are responsible for at least 15,000 deaths per year in the United States. Most aortic aneurysms are
detected incidentally from images created for other purposes or through screening programs. Advanced age, cigarette smoking,
male gender, hypertension, whether treated or not, and family history have been the most frequently recognized AAA risk factors.
Better methods are needed to identify individuals at risk for AAA who would benefit from screening and possible intervention.
NHLBI-funded investigators found that a common sequence variant, which was previously linked to myocardial infarction,
also is associated with risk for AAA and for intracranial aneurysm (IA). The variant was studied in several populations
(Iceland, UK, US, Belgium, New Zealand, Canada, Finland, and the Netherlands) and found to be associated with AAAs of
all sizes, whether symptomatic or asymptomatic. People who carried one copy of the variant had an increased risk for
both AAA and IA of more than 30 percent compared with non-carriers, and risk was elevated more than 70 percent in people with two copies.
This study is the first to demonstrate an association of a common genetic variant with AAA and IA that replicates in several populations.
The discovery, if augmented by future identification of additional genetic variants, is expected ultimately to enable better prediction of
risk for these conditions.
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