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Fish protein link to controlling high blood pressure - new study

22 June 2009 Leicester, University of

Medical scientists at the University of Leicester are investigating how a species of fish from the Pacific Ocean could help provide answers to tackling chronic conditions such as hereditary high blood pressure and kidney disease.

They are examining whether the Goby fish can help researchers locate genes linked to high blood pressure. This is because a protein called Urotensin II, first identified in the fish, is important for regulating blood pressure in all vertebrates- from fish to humans.

The study is being carried out in the University’s Department of Cardiovascular Sciences. Researcher Dr Radoslaw Debiec said: “The protein found in the fish has remained almost unaltered during evolution".

“This indicates that the protein might be of critical importance in regulation of blood pressure and understanding the genetic background of high blood pressure.

“Uncovering the genetic causes of high blood pressure may help in its better prediction and early prevention of its complications. My research at the University of Leicester has shown how variation in the gene encoding the protein may influence risk of hypertension.”

Dr Debiec will be presenting his research at the Festival of Postgraduate Research which is taking place on Thursday 25th June in the Belvoir Suite, Charles Wilson Building at the University of Leicester between 11.30am and 1pm.

He added: “Drugs affecting the protein might be a novel alternative to the available therapies in particular in those patients who have chronic kidney disease coexisting with high blood pressure.

“Analysis of large cohort of families has provided us with evidence that genetic information encrypted in the protein travels together with the risk of high blood pressure across generations. Furthermore, the same genetic variant responsible for elevated blood pressure is responsible for the development of chronic kidney disease in this group of patients.

“The present findings may have an impact on the development of new blood pressure-lowering medications.”

Dr Debiec’s study was supervised Dr. M. Tomaszewski (Department of Cardiovascular Sciences, Cardiology Group,) and Professor D.G. Lambert (Department of Cardiovascular Sciences; Pharmacology and Therapeutics Group).

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