News of the WeekHYPERTENSION

Possible New Path for Blood Pressure Control

Science  10 Aug 2001:
Vol. 293, Issue 5532, pp. 1030
DOI: 10.1126/science.293.5532.1030a

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Despite years of study, researchers still don't fully understand how the body normally regulates its blood pressure or why that regulation so often goes awry. Results described on page 1107 now provide an important new clue to both those puzzles. Molecular geneticists have identified two related genes, either of which can, when mutated, cause a rare hereditary form of high blood pressure. The new genes appear to be part of a previously unknown pathway that helps control blood pressure by regulating ion movements in the kidney, and the pathway in which the genes' protein products are thought to act may be good targets for new drugs to treat high blood pressure.