New breakthrough in high blood pressure research

Scientists at Strathclyde are being funded by the British Heart Foundation to conduct a two year investigation aimed at improving the treatment of hypertension.

The team, led by Dr Debbi MacMillan of the Strathclyde Institute of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences, with Professor John McCarron and Dr Charles Kennedy, has identified a novel mechanism for the control of blood vessel constriction, which is essential in blood pressure regulation. This may lead to the development of new treatments for high blood pressure.

The researchers have identified a hitherto unrecognised pathway which regulates calcium activity within the smooth muscle of the blood vessel wall, to control constriction and dilation of blood vessels.

The constriction and dilation of the muscular walls of blood vessels is controlled by calcium, which regulates blood flow through the vessels and thus blood pressure within the vessels.

Yet, until now, a mechanism whereby calcium is regulated by ATP, a purinergic drug, has not been recognised. This study will investigate the process by which ATP modifies calcium to regulate the constriction and dilation of blood vessels and how this may be altered in disease.

Dr MacMillan said, ''I am delighted that we have received funding from the British Heart Foundation. This prestigious award will enable us to gain a better understanding of the normal physiology of smooth muscle and how it might be changed in disease conditions, to provide better informed treatment, which leads to better management of the disease. Our findings will undoubtedly present new opportunities for the development of new drugs for treating vascular disorders.''