People who suffer from high blood pressure and other heart ailments may someday see relief through a University of Iowa study. Dr. Kevin Campbell, a U-of-I professor and interim head of physiology and biophysics, is investigating how the arteries of genetically-engineered mice react to a certain type of calcium protein. Dr. Campbell says they’ve identified a “novel protein” that allows calcium to enter smooth muscle cells and when it was removed from the mice, they showed abnormal constriction of the coronary arteries. He says it’s an important step in understanding how arteries relax. While most people associate calcium with drinking milk, Campbell says the calcium involved in this research might eventually be administered via a tablet. He says a variety of people could benefit from the study. People with cardiac problems due to smooth muscle relaxation and those with high blood pressure would live healthier lives. While the calcium protein helps arteries to relax, abnormal or restricted blood flow to heart muscles can lead to heart damage because cells that are deprived of oxygen and nutrients die. Dr. Campbell says the research has been on mice in recent months and he explains the next step. The study was published this month in the journal “Science.”