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Respiratory conditions could be better targeted and treated, thanks to the discovery of the vital molecule which regulates breathing – according to research by the University of Warwick.
Professor Nicholas Dale at the School of Life Sciences has exploited evolutionary principles to identify Connexin26 (Cx26) as a key molecule that reacts to CO2 in our bodies and activates breathing.
Cx26 molecules detect levels of CO2 in the blood-stream, and when levels reach a certain point, they tell our bodies to excrete the CO2 and take in oxygen – the vital life-preserving process that allows us to breathe, and creates blood flow to the brain.
Without this essential molecular function, harmful levels of CO2 would remain in the bloodstream, making breathing difficult or impossible.
Mutations in Cx26 are directly connected to a number of serious conditions – ranging from congenital deafness, to respiratory conditions, and serious syndromes that affect skin, vision and hearing. As Cx26 is vital to breathing well, people carrying these mutations may be at risk of sleep apnoea.
Credit: University of Warwick
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