Gene variant linked to high blood pressure identified

December 30th, 2008 - 3:10 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Dec 30 (Xinhua) Researchers at the US University of Maryland School of Medicine have identified a common gene variant that appears to influence risk of developing high blood pressure. The STK39 gene is the first hypertension susceptibility gene to be uncovered through a new technique called a genome-wide association study and confirmed by data from several independent researches, according to a study published Monday on the website of the Proceedings of the US National Academy of Sciences.

Located on chromosome 2, the gene produces a protein that helps to regulate the way the kidneys process salt, which plays a key role in determining blood pressure.

“This discovery has great potential for enhancing our ability to tailor treatments to the individual - what we call personalized medicine - and to manage more effectively patients with hypertension,” senior author of the report Christy Yen-pei Chang said.

“We hope that it will lead to new therapies to combat this serious public health problem worldwide.” But Chang said more research is needed.

“Hypertension is a very complex condition, with numerous other genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors involved. The STK39 gene is only one important piece of the puzzle.

“We want to determine how people with different variations of this gene respond to diuretics and other medications, or to lifestyle changes, such as reducing the amount of salt in their diet. This information might help us discover the most effective way to control an individual patient’s blood pressure,” she said.

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