People with an uncommon duplication of a gene have a 12-fold increase in the risk of having a torn aorta, a lethal leak in the crucial artery that carries blood out of the heart. Researchers at the Baylor College of Medicine and the University of Texas in Houston found the duplication on chromosome 16 in 8 of 765 patients who had an aortic aneurysm or tear but in only 4 of more than 4,500 people with intact aortas. Although the gene duplication is unusual, it confers a clear risk to those carrying it, the scientists report in the June PLoS Genetics. —Nathan Seppa
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