Monday, December 18, 2006

Scientists develop a new technique to treat high blood pressure and kidney damage

MedicineNews.net – Nearly one-third of American adults have high blood pressure, a major cause of myocardial infarctions, strokes and kidney failure. But a new technique tested at the University of Florida (UF) could prove to be a long-term way to treat the disorder in humans, researchers say.

UF researchers kept blood pressure from worsening and nearly eliminated kidney damage in rats exposed to cold weather, which can constrict blood vessels and overload the kidneys with hormones.

Using a corrective gene, scientists were able to block a protein in the kidneys that triggers high blood pressure and kidney damage, said Zhongjie Sun, the lead author of the study.The protein, called a mineralocorticoid receptor (MR), signals the body to absorb sodium and water into the bloodstream. This increases the amount of blood in the body, also increasing blood pressure.

“This new technique can specifically and efficiently inhibit the protein and prevent the progression of hypertension," Sun said.

To block the protein, researchers used a technique called RNA interference. A harmless virus ferries fragments of RNA into the body, where they infiltrate cells and stop the protein. It's the first time scientists have used the approach to treat hypertension and kidney damage, he said.

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