Letter from the editor | 69

Closing in on hypertension

It is already becoming a tradition: Brazilian researchers have made another important discovery about hypertension. A team at the Federal University of São Paulo (Unifesp) and at the Heart Institute (Incor) have found a protein that appears only in those who already have high blood pressure or exhibit pre-disposition towards developing it. Hypertension is an important study object throughout the world because of the silent threat that it represents. When new information is obtained that can effectively lead to a precocious diagnosis, the scientific community celebrates. This is yet another step towards combating an illness which, by the time symptoms appear, it has already caused damage to the health of the patient. Estimates by the World Health Organization (WHO) point towards more than 600 million hypertension sufferers in the world – just in Brazil 20% of the adult population have the problem.

The researchers have created a kit to measure the presence of the protein in human urine, which could become a pre-destined test for hypertension. They have also requested the patent on the use of the marker and of the test in Brazil and have done the same in the United States, Europe and in Japan. The good news follows in the footsteps of the important research already done on the question. In the decade of the 60’s at the Medical School of Ribeirão Preto the BPF molecule (Bradykinin Power Factor) was investigated, which gave rise to a medicine widely used against the disease. This year the Center of Applied Toxicology of Butantan patented the main active ingredient of another molecule, Evasin, which should also give origin to an anti-hypertension medicine. And now there appears the work of the Unifesp and Incor team, the object of the cover of this issue. It is a sign that the installed competence in the research system of the State of São Paulo rarely stops giving fruit when adequate means are made available.

The same is true for the other Brazilian research centers clearly recognized as competent. The Institute of Medicine Technology (Far-Manguinhos), of the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz), for example, is prepared to help Portuguese-speaking African countries who have cooperation agreements with Brazil. The Far-Manguinhos will transfer technology for the manufacturing of anti-retroviruses to Angola, a country with a high rate of Aids-causing HIV contamination. The story with the fine work of Fiocruz is on S&T Policy section.

In the section on Technology, there is an example of the partnership between the university and the company with good results coming from it. The Federal University of São Carlos (UFSCar) and the company Alcoa Alumínio created a rheometer for concrete, an instrument which aims to estimate the degree of quality and the reactions between the raw materials used in the formation of refractory concrete. The study is a success: it generated ten master’s dissertations, seven doctorate theses, a book and the registration of three patents. The Alcoa company has launched specific software that costs R$ 800.00 whose income will revert exclusively to the UFSCar. Pesquisa FAPESP has the honor of demonstrating this type of work as an indicator of the numerous possibilities for the approximation between the academic world and the productivity sector. It has already been proven that this coming together, when well thought out, only brings benefits to both parties.

In the Humanities Section, researchers at the Psychology Institute of USP have brought out a Brazilian dictionary of sign language for deaf people, the first of its kind in the country. Finally, this issue comes with the supplement Innovation Technology, which up-dates data from 1999.