Research by top Scots academics could offer new hope to sufferers of high blood pressure, the country's "silent killer".

A multinational project led by the Universities of Dundee and Glasgow has identified a genetic mutation, present in 40% of the population, which increases a person's chance of developing hypertension.

It is hoped the study, released yesterday, will help create new wonder drugs. Hypertension is a commonly inherited condition caused by a mix of genetic factors and the environment. However, the genes underlying this have proved difficult to identify.

Professor John Connell, vice-principal of the University of Dundee who led the project, said: "This shows that a gene variation in around 40% of the population is a significant factor."