Molecule Found That Can Open Sodium Channels

The body’s “sodium channels” are crucial in maintaining healthy blood pressure and salt levels. A recent research team has found a molecule that can activate proteins in sodium channels, enabling the balance of sodium levels.

The channel in question is known as the “human epithelial sodium channel (ENaC).” ENac has the ability to control “sodium flow across many tissues such as the lungs, kidneys, and colon, and it is vital to maintaining proper salt balance and blood pressure.”

According to the study, no molecule had been found in the past that could activate the ENaC, though “there are available drugs that can block over-active sodium channels.”

The researchers found one such small molecule, labeled as S3969, that activates the ENaC. Tests were performed on “both amphibian and human cells, this molecule could increase sodium flow through normal ENaC and restore function to deficient ENaC.”

This result could form the basis for the development of drugs that utilize S3969 and help activate insufficient activity in the ENaC. A drug of this nature could help with conditions such as dangerously low blood pressure levels (hypertension), “neonatal pulmonary edema (reduced sodium uptake in the lungs can lead to fluid retention), and renal salt wasting disorders.

Source: Defeat Diabetes Foundation: Zagorski, Nick. JBC Online news release. April 2008.

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