New kidney blood pressure clues

( — Scientists have discovered a “cure for killer blood pressure”, the Daily Express claimed today. In its dramatic front-page story, the newspaper reported that a breakthrough which identified the cause of high blood pressure “could save millions of lives every year”.

These bold claims are premature, as they come from a very small laboratory study that looked at kidney tissue samples from just 22 men. Comparing the genetics within the kidneys of 15 men with high blood pressure and 7 with normal blood pressure, the researchers found variations in the activity levels of certain genes containing the instructions for making proteins. In particular, men with high blood pressure had lower activity in the gene containing the code for making the kidney hormone renin, which regulates blood pressure.

While this highly complex study provides an insight into the activity of genes in the kidney, the researchers themselves do not suggest that it could lead to a new treatment or cure for high blood pressure. This worthwhile research has identified areas for further exploration by scientists and doctors, but this single study has certainly not uncovered a revolutionary cure for high blood pressure, as some newspapers have suggested.

Where did the story come from?

This research was carried out by the Universities of Sydney and Ballarat in Australia, and the University of Leicester. The study received funding from various sources, including a University of Sydney Research Infrastructure grant, grants from the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia and an Australian Research Council grant. The study was published in the peer-reviewed medical journal Hypertension.

This scientific research was well conducted, but its implications have been over-inflated by the Express and the Daily Mail. While this relatively small study does present some important findings, they are of an exploratory nature and do not directly point the way towards a cure for high blood pressure, as the media have implied.


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