"We anticipated that individuals of African ancestry share similar biology to other populations. However, differences in genomic make-up between African ancestry and other populations have uncovered additional genes affecting blood pressure, in addition to genetic variants that are specific to individuals of African ancestry," said Nora Franceschini, MD, MPH, nephrologist and research assistant professor of epidemiology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and first author on the paper.
The next phase of study involving the newly discovered gene mutations will investigate their function using human blood samples at the molecular level. Zhu and his colleagues have begun conducting additional research to determine whether the newly identified genes respond to existing hypertension medications. Individuals typically respond differently to a given medication depending on which gene mutation they carry. The more information researchers gather, the greater opportunity clinicians will have prescribed the drug that is most efficacious based on the patient's specific mutation.
"The research findings do not have immediate implications for treatment, but the hope is that discovering genes associated with disease risks will bring scientists closer to biological pathways and may suggest useful targets for new treatments," said geneticist Brendan J. Keating, DPhil, one of co-senior authors of the paper, of The Center for Applied Genomics at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and faculty at the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania.
|Contact: Jessica Studeny|
Case Western Reserve University