For the first time ever, researchers have been able to reveal the 3D structure of a membrane channel that plays a crucial role in controlling blood pressure. The results of the study denote the first time that the human epithelial sodium channel has been so precisely shown since it was isolated and analyzed for the first time in 1993.
According to the researchers, the findings could be a stepping stone in the direction of developing better therapeutic measures for a number of conditions that are known to be associated with the channel. The human epithelial sodium channel is known to enable the absorption of sodium ions into tissues in the human body. As such, the channel plays a key part in regulating the sodium balance, blood pressure, and blood volume of the body and maintaining its health.
When the epithelial sodium channel fails to function properly, the body undergoes severe hypertension related conditions such as neonatal salt-wasting disorder or Liddle syndrome. The findings provide a plausible answer to several basic question related to our biophysiology and about the specific structure of the channel, which could eventually lead to the development of drugs with better results in conditions such as heart failure, severe hypertension, and nephrotic syndrome. Researchers believe that the findings will be more prominently beneficial to the development of targeted medicines for controlling high blood pressure.
For the research, the researchers made use of a cryo-electron microscope at the newly designed center at the Robertson Life Sciences Building in the Oregon Health & Science University. The technique is a relatively new mode of visualizing biological molecules at scales as miniscule as atomic.