New Insight Into How ‘Chemical Switch’ That Increases Risk of Stroke and Heart Disease Risk Is Turned On

ScienceDaily (Mar. 6, 2012) — Scientists investigating a ‘biochemical switch’ linked to strokes and heart disease claim to have made an advance in understanding how it is ‘turned on’.

The work was led by a team at the University of Leicester, working in collaboration with Cardiff University, to investigate the ‘biochemical switch’ identified as the P2X1 receptor.

Lead researcher Professor Richard Evans, of the University of Leicester Department of Cell Physiology & Pharmacology, said: “P2X1 receptors are protein molecules expressed on blood platelets which are cells involved in blood clotting. Drugs that block these receptors have the potential to reduce “dangerous” blood clotting that leads to strokes and heart attacks.

“Our research has looked at how the P2X1 receptor is “turned on.” By biochemical studies and purifying the P2X1 receptor and using an electron microscope we have ‘visualised’ the receptor and detected changes in its shape when it is activated.

“The P2X1 receptor is made of three identical parts and we have shown that activation leads to these twisting against each-other. We found that if we chemically locked the receptor to stop this twisting, then the P2X1 receptor could not be fully activated. Read more