Feature stories | Technology & innovation

Scientists fine-tune brand new approach to hypertension treatment

24 May '21
Biophysicists have looked into the way vitally important receptors are structured in the human cardiovascular system, and offered an innovative method of developing a new generation of medicines. Prospective drugs could be used to control blood pressure, fight lung fibrosis, improve kidney functions, and do a lot of other useful things.

An international research team that brought together specialists in molecular aging mechanisms and aging-associated diseases from Moscow’s Phystech University (MIPT), as well as colleagues from China, India and the United States, appears to have achieved certain noteworthy results in their study of blood pressure control. Details could be looked for in an English-language article in Trends in Pharmacological Sciences.

The core of the problem

Arterial pressure in the human body is largely controlled by what scientists refer to as renin-angiotensin system (RAS). The angiotensin II hormone is a key element of RAS as it triggers blood pressure rise by influencing the cardiovascular and nervous systems, as well as kidneys.

It is special interaction between angiotensin and the so-called AT1R receptor that causes blood vessels to constrict, thus pushing arterial pressure up. The AT1R is one of the receptors in the cell membrane which facilitate signaling between the body at large and a single cell; they are also referred to as G-protein coupled receptors (GPCR).

There is another GPCR-class angiotensin receptor called AT2R. It participates in processes that counter the activity of the AT1R, protecting tissues and cells and helping mitigate a range of neuropathic pains (pains that develop without explicable reasons).

Solutions suggested

“Angiotensin receptors are key players in many processes that sustain the cardiovascular system; they are responsible for aging mechanisms and the development of viral infectious diseases. The importance of research into these can hardly be overestimated, and we took a serious interest in the area,” Alexey Mishin of MIPT’s GPCR Structural Biology Lab said in a comment on the research.

The researchers are not only looking into what the receptors consist of; studying their interaction with other molecules is also critical. There are substances that bond with a receptor and control signal transmission, called ligands. Most ligands are selective to receptors, interacting with one or another depending on their structure or change in certain biochemical conditions. In widespread therapeutic practice, for example, it is an AT1R-impacting group of drugs that is typically used to control blood pressure.

The AT1R can convey a signal through an array of transmitter proteins. Profoundly knowing G-protein coupled receptors’ structure may help identify specific ligands to send a signal in a cell by using this or that “transmitter”, thus making sure hypertension patients or other pathological cases are treated as safely and accurately as possible.

“Research into molecular mechanisms of angiotensin receptors activity may bring about new generations of drugs capable of fighting very serious diseases,” said Aleksandra Luginina of MIPT’s GPCR Structural Biology Lab.

Understanding the angiotensin receptors’ molecular structures and their interaction with various types of ligands is likely to pave the way for creating new drug candidates to normalize the cardiovascular system, control fluid balance and kidney performance, and treat COVID-19 patients.
Oleg Kouzbit, managing editor: “I’m glad you join us here and take The Bridge walk for Marchmont’s weekly review of the Russian regions’ innovative present and future. Stay close and you’ll find out more of how Russia is bridging the existing gap between its researchers and businesses.”
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Tags: MIPT (42) / hypertension (3) / renin angiotensin system (0) / angiotensin receptor (0) / GPCR (0) / AT1R (0) /

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