Mutant Gene for Hypertension discovered
According to a discovery by scientists from the University of Abertay Dundee, a severely mutated gene responsible for kidney abnormalities and blindness in chickens is the same one that puts humans at the risk of developing hypertension.
Because of the lack of symptoms, hypertension is commonly referred to as the “silent killer” that affects one in three adults in the UK (16 million). Nearly 62,000 yearly deaths from stroke and heart attacks are caused by poor management of hypertension.
Although hypertension can be prevented and managed by diet and exercise, the condition has no “cure.” Irrespective of the lifestyle, some people are predisposed to it than others.
Dr. Doug Lester from Abertay’s School of Contemporary Sciences said, “This discovery could lead to the development of new drugs for hypertension in humans who are genetically predisposed to the condition.”
Kidney abnormalities that were never reported in humans previously are also said to be caused by the mutated GNB3 gene, according to Abertay scientists working with researchers from the Roslin Institute, Leeds University, and Ninewells Hospital in Dundee.
Dr. Lester said, “As half of all humans carry a common GNB3 variant that predisposes them to hypertension, this finding should shed light on what kidney functions are being changed in these individuals.”
Dr. Hemanth Tummala, research fellow who worked alongside Doctor Lester said, “We believe this paper can shed light on the kidney pathways in which GNB3 protein is involved in predisposing humans to hypertension. This is because a severe mutation in the GNB3 gene, in chickens causes not only blindness, as previously reported, but also renal anomalies. More importantly, in humans, another common GNB3 variant that half of all humans carry has been associated with predisposing carriers to essential hypertension. We propose that these chickens are useful animal models in studying the action of the GNB3 protein in the kidney and why the common human variant predisposes individuals to hypertension.”