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
NOV 22, 2021
Cancer
A New Treatment Option for Patients with Cancer in the Eye
NOV 22, 2021
A New Treatment Option for Patients with Cancer in the Eye
Uveal melanoma (UM) is a rare malignancy characterized by the formation of cancer cells in the tissues of the eye. UM be ...
NOV 19, 2021
Health & Medicine
Increase in Cannabis Use Disorder in Prenatal Hospitalizations
NOV 19, 2021
Increase in Cannabis Use Disorder in Prenatal Hospitalizations
A recent study by Columbia University and Weill Cornell Medicine researchers found that cannabis use disorder (CUD) in p ...
DEC 02, 2021
Health & Medicine
Senate Bill 8 Increases Demand for Birth Control
DEC 02, 2021
Senate Bill 8 Increases Demand for Birth Control
Since enforcing Senate Bill 8 for stricter abortion laws, Texas has seen an increased demand for birth control. Also kno ...
DEC 17, 2021
Cannabis Sciences
Δ9-THCP: The Novel Phytocannabinoid with Higher Cannabimimetic Activity than THC
DEC 17, 2021
Δ9-THCP: The Novel Phytocannabinoid with Higher Cannabimimetic Activity than THC
Two novel phytocannabinoids from Cannabis sativa L. have been identified – one with a higher in vivo cannabimimeti ...
DEC 22, 2021
Coronavirus
Which COVID vaccine and booster are right for me?
DEC 22, 2021
Which COVID vaccine and booster are right for me?
The 2-year anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic, which began in December 2019, recently passed. It would not be overstat ...
JAN 01, 2022
Cannabis Sciences
Pharmacological Effects of Cannabis: To Be or Not To Be... Carboxylated?
JAN 01, 2022
Pharmacological Effects of Cannabis: To Be or Not To Be... Carboxylated?
Results from a new study published in Nature’s Scientific Reports suggest that the carboxylated (i.e., acidic) for ...
Loading Comments...