Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Advance in understanding of blood pressure gene could lead to new treatments

Advance in understanding of blood pressure gene could lead to new treatments

Research by scientists at UCL (University College London) has clearly demonstrated for the first time the structure and function of a gene crucial to the regulation of blood pressure. The discovery could be important in the search for new treatments for illnesses such as heart disease, the UK’s biggest killer.

In a paper published online today in Nature Medicine, the team, led by Professor Patrick Vallance and Dr James Leiper, UCL Department of Medicine, reveal the role of the human gene dimethylarginine dimethylaminohydrolase (DDAH), showing that loss of DDAH activity disrupts nitric oxide (NO) production. NO is critical in the regulation of blood pressure, nervous system functions and the immune system.

The role of DDAH is to break down modified amino acids (Asymmetric dimethylarginine (ADMA) and monomethyl arginine (L-NMMA)) that are produced by the body and have been shown to inhibit NO synthase. These molecules accumulate in various disease states including diabetes, renal failure and pulmonary and systemic hypertension, and their concentration in plasma (the fluid component of blood) is strongly predicative of cardiovascular disease and death.

... more about:
»ADMA »DDAH »blood pressure »blood vessel

In a healthy human body, the majority of ADMA is eliminated through active metabolism by DDAH. Scientists have hypothesised that if DDAH function is impaired, NO production is reduced, and that this could be an important feature of increased cardiovascular risk.

To examine this pathway in more detail, the researchers deleted the DDAH gene in mice. These mice went on to develop hypertension, or high blood pressure. They also designed specific inhibitors (small molecules) which bind to the active site of human DDAH. These small molecule inhibitors also induced hypertension in mice, confirming the importance of DDAH in the regulation of blood pressure.

Dr Leiper, UCL Medicine, said: “These genetic and chemical approaches to disrupt DDAH showed remarkably consistent results, and provide compelling evidence that loss of DDAH function increases the concentration of ADMA and thereby disrupts vascular NO signalling.

“There has been considerable scientific interest in this pathway and the role of ADMA as a novel risk factor, but so far there’s been little evidence to support the idea that it’s a cause of disease, rather than just a marker. Genes and their pathways are crucial to our understanding of cardiovascular disease and a better understanding of DDAH-1 could lead to important new treatments.

“It could help us to establish if genetic variation predisposes certain people to these diseases, or whether environmental factors exert some of their effects through modulation of DDAH activity.

“Our research also shows that this pathway could be harnessed therapeutically to limit production of NO in certain situations where too much nitric oxide is a bad thing; for example, hypotension and septic shock. These are some of the biggest problems in intensive care medicine and there is a huge unmet need for drug treatments.”

The study, which was carried out at UCL’s Rayne Institute, was funded by grants from the British Heart Foundation, the Wellcome Trust and the Medical Research Council.

Professor Jeremy Pearson, Associate Medical Director of the British Heart Foundation, said:

"The unexpected finding in the 1980s that a simple gas, nitric oxide (NO), is made by cells in the blood vessel wall and is a powerful control of blood vessel relaxation led to the award of the Nobel Prize in 1998 to its discoverers.

"More recently, there has been increasing evidence that impairment of NO production is likely to be an important factor in the development of heart and circulatory disease, but the mechanisms responsible are not fully understood.

"This study suggests for the first time that the loss of the activity of the enzyme DDAH-1 leads to reduced NO production and may cause heart and circulatory disease. These findings are likely to be important in the search for new ways to optimise the health of our blood vessels."

Dominique Fourniol | alfa
Further information:

Further reports about: ADMA DDAH blood pressure blood vessel

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Novel mechanisms of action discovered for the skin cancer medication Imiquimod
21.10.2016 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Second research flight into zero gravity
21.10.2016 | Universität Zürich

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>