Effective treatment for a condition affecting 1 billion people is in the sights of researchers at the University of Auckland. Chris Reed reports.

It's a silent killer that affects one in three adult Kiwis and creates huge healthcare bills.

But groundbreaking medicine to control high blood pressure is in the sights of researchers at Auckland University – and their focus is a little-known organ the size of a grain of rice.

Professor of translational physiology Julian Paton has been awarded almost $5 million to investigate the role of the carotid body.

Paton believes the "extremely powerful" organ serves as a sensor regulating the body's response to low blood oxygen by increasing nerve activity that raises blood pressure.

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