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Blood pressure vaccine on way

By Lilian Anekwe

Prescribing antihypertensives could be a thing of the past if promising early data on a blood pressure vaccine is confirmed, delegates heard.

The vaccine binds to angiotensin II – inhibiting the renin-angiotensin system – and can cut daytime ambulatory systolic and diastolic blood pressure by up to 5.6mmHg and 2.8mmHg respectively, suggest the new figures.

Seventy-two patients with either mild to moderate hypertension were given three injections of a placebo dose, followed by a 100µg and then 300µg dose of the vaccine at weeks 0, 4 and 12. The effect on blood pressure lasted for four months, after which it could be increased again by giving a booster injection.

Study leader Professor Juerg Nussberger, a cardiology consultant at the Cytos Biotechnology research institute in Lausanne, Switzerland, said it was encouraging that the vaccine was most effective in the morning, when most cardiovascular events occur. ‘Drugs have a short half-life of only a few hours, whereas this injection lasts for four months,' he said.

‘The big problem with hypertensive patients is compliance. This could offer an alternative so that a patient, rather than taking medications every day, can take one shot three times a year instead.'

Professor Nussberger said his next trial would be to establish which dosages worked best in which patients.

Dr Daniel Jones, president of the AHA board of directors and dean of the University of Mississippi School of Medicine said the study was interesting, but developing a vaccine could take many years and there may be safety concerns.

‘If you block the angiotensin system completely in pregnant women for example, that leads to an increase in babies born with congenital heart defects.'

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