EU-funded research led by the University of Glasgow and Istituto Auxologico Italiano of Milan opens the way to new prevention and treatment for high blood pressure (hypertension). The team discovered a new gene variant which lowers the risk of hypertension. This important discovery is the result of one of the largest genetic studies ever done in this field, involving 40,000 people from eight European countries.
Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science said: "I congratulate all those involved in this excellent work. Discoveries stemming from large genetic studies like this can offer new avenues for innovative prevention and treatment, so that each individual gets the best drug for their condition. Healthcare is an absolute priority under the Commission's Innovation Union proposals because nothing matters more than saving lives and alleviating suffering. At the same time, the kind of advance the InGenious HyperCare project has achieved can in the end also lead to huge economic benefits, by opening new markets for EU companies and helping to keep people active and healthy for longer."
The new variation is located in a gene which regulates the production by the kidney of uromodulin, a protein excreted in the urine. The research sheds new light on the role of uromodulin in the regulation of blood pressure. Altogether, scientists in 31 research groups are involved, working in 11 EU Member States: Italy, UK, Belgium, Czech Republic, Germany, Spain, France, Netherlands, Poland, Finland and Sweden. Scientists in Switzerland, Russia and China are also part of the network. The EU contribution is €10 million (about GBP 8.8 million).
One adult in four in the EU suffers from the condition which, as the most important cardio-vascular risk factor, is ultimately the leading cause of death worldwide. Individuals carrying the new variant were found to have 15% fewer strokes, myocardial infarctions and coronary deaths.