Cape Town - Researchers from Italy and South Africa have discovered a gene that causes sudden death in young people and athletes. This discovery is the biggest breakthrough in South African cardiology since Dr Christiaan Barnard's first heart transplant in December 1967. The University of Cape Town, Istituto Auxologico Italiano and the South African Medical Research Council made the announcement.
The gene, called CDH2, causes a genetic disorder that leads to cardiac arrest. The researchers said they will use this discovery to help diagnose and treat heart muscle disease in the future. Dean of Health Sciences at the Cape Town university, Bongani Mayosi, said: "It (the discovery) involves teams across three continents to really arrive at this and each team contributing something to try to solve the puzzle.
"The discovery of a gene is almost like looking for a needle in a haystack because you can imagine you have three billion changes in our genome and there is this one spelling error that you are looking for in three billion letters. So it requires major detective work to find this".