JUL 15, 2021 9:00 AM PDT

The genomics of high blood pressure - a road to the future of treatment

WRITTEN BY: J. Bryce Ortiz

The human heart begins to beat in utero in the early weeks of development and continues throughout life. In an average lifetime, the heart will beat 2.5 billion times. With each heartbeat, the heart muscle squeezes blood and forces it through the vast circulatory system of the body. The force that the heart exerts against the veins and arteries is known as blood pressure. High blood pressure, or hypertension, can devastate the vascular system as it exerts added pressure on veins and arteries. Hypertension contributes to the incidence of heart disease and stroke, which are leading causes of death and disability in the United States each year. 

The cause of hypertension is multifactorial, but past research and clinical treatments have focused on environmental factors, such as psychological stress or salt intake. However, the genetic contribution to high blood pressure is beginning to be recognized. In a recent review published in Nature Reviews Cardiology, researchers outline the current state of the science on blood pressure genomics. They report that genome wide association studies have identified 31 distinct genes and close to 1,500 single nucleotide polymorphisms that are associated with blood pressure related disorders.

It is believed that understanding the genetic risk factors for hypertension can lead to early and accurate diagnosis, improved treatments, and the development of new drugs to treat hypertension. The authors state that the objective of understanding the genetic makeup of high blood pressure, “is to facilitate the implementation of precision medicine through an increased understanding of the molecular pathways that regulate blood pressure.” 

Since no new drugs have been approved for the treatment of hypertension in over two decades, the question remains as to how understanding the genetics of hypertension can help treat the disease. Interestingly, the study of the genetic architecture of hypertension enables researchers to repurpose drugs to treat the disease and review the genes for potential druggability. The researchers for this study point out that there is overlap between blood-pressure associated genes, and genes that are already targeted by certain classes of drugs. This process, known as drug repurposing – or the process of identifying new indications for existing drugs – will help to expand our knowledge of hypertension and improve the efforts to treat this disease. 

 

Sources: CDC, Nature, & Nature Cardio

About the Author
  • Science and medical writer | Researcher | Interested in the intersection between translational science, drug development, and policy
You May Also Like
JUL 22, 2021
Drug Discovery & Development
Enhancing Myelin to Treat Alzheimer's Disease
JUL 22, 2021
Enhancing Myelin to Treat Alzheimer's Disease
Brain cells, or neurons, communicate through electrochemical signals. The electrical signals travel down a neuron’ ...
AUG 05, 2021
Drug Discovery & Development
A Smartphone App that Identifies Disease-Carrying, Insecticide-Resistant Mosquitos.
AUG 05, 2021
A Smartphone App that Identifies Disease-Carrying, Insecticide-Resistant Mosquitos.
Mosquito-borne diseases can lead to serious disability or death. These diseases, which include Malaria, Zika, West Nile ...
AUG 13, 2021
Cell & Molecular Biology
Taking Aim at the Sugar Coat of the SARS-CoV-2 Spike Protein
AUG 13, 2021
Taking Aim at the Sugar Coat of the SARS-CoV-2 Spike Protein
We've learned a lot about the virus that causes COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2, in the past year and a half. Researchers know the ...
SEP 07, 2021
Neuroscience
Researchers Harness the Power of Machine Learning to Facilitate Drug Repurposing
SEP 07, 2021
Researchers Harness the Power of Machine Learning to Facilitate Drug Repurposing
Using machine learning and massive data sets from patients, researchers identify drug and drug combinations that could b ...
OCT 01, 2021
Technology
SnapTec® - Single-handed operation for fast and safe sample handling
OCT 01, 2021
SnapTec® - Single-handed operation for fast and safe sample handling
The new Eppendorf Conical Tube SnapTec 50 offers all the advantages of classic conical tubes 50 mL. The decisive, innova ...
OCT 12, 2021
Drug Discovery & Development
Preventing future pandemics - Scientists developing broadly protective vaccines against coronaviruses
OCT 12, 2021
Preventing future pandemics - Scientists developing broadly protective vaccines against coronaviruses
Researchers at Japan’s Osaka University recently developed and tested a novel vaccine that may protect a ...
Loading Comments...