CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WRIC) — Researchers at the University of Virginia’s School of Medicine have discovered an explanation for high blood pressure that could open the way for new treatments.

Dr. Swapnil Sonkusare lead the study, which he wrote in an editorial could lead to a “new paradigm in hypertension.”

“Our work identifies a new mechanism that helps maintain healthy blood pressure and shows how abnormalities in this mechanism can lead to hypertension,” said Sonkusare, adding that it could suggest innovative treatments without the downsides of current medications.

High blood pressure is often linked to calcium levels in the muscles lining blood vessels, and so many current treatments are based on calcium blockers, which prevent some calcium from acting on those muscles.

However, because calcium is necessary for vital functions across the entire body, this can have wide-ranging side effects. Sonkusare’s research identified “nanodomains” in the muscles that they wrote, “act like symphony conductors for blood vessels.”

“Understanding these components will help us target them to lower or raise the blood pressure in disease conditions that show high or low blood pressure, respectively,” Sonkusare said.

While the research is still in its early stages, Sonkusare said they are “already working” to develop treatments using the new mechanism.