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CONTACT: DAVE PEDERSEN
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e-mail: david-pedersen@uiowa.edu

Release: Release: Immediate

Jan. 3, 2000

UI researchers receive $1.26 million NIH grant to study protein linked to hypertension

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- University of Iowa researchers have received a five-year, $1.26 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to learn more about a protein that plays a role in hypertension.

Curt D. Sigmund, Ph.D., associate professor of internal medicine, and his UI colleagues will study angiotensinogen, a protein encoded in a gene that has been found to be associated with hypertension in some patients. Researchers believe an altered form of the protein or an inappropriate expression of the gene may predispose some people to hypertension.

"Recent evidence suggests that some forms of hypertension may be inherited. However, the genes responsible have yet to be identified," said Sigmund, who also holds a faculty appointment in the UI department of physiology and biophysics. "Our goal is to develop models in laboratory mice to directly test the significance and consequences of alterations in angiotensinogen function."

The studies may help determine why patients carrying the altered form of the angiotensinogen gene develop hypertension, while others carrying the normal form of the gene have normal blood pressure. The research could eventually lead to the screening of patients at risk for hypertension (individuals with hypertension in their families), based on their angiotensinogen genotype.

The UI research also may provide a new model for testing variants in other genes as well as other diseases involving multiple genes, Sigmund added.

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