High Blood Pressure Vaccine
For many people suffering from high blood pressure the only long-term solution is a daily pill, or a combination of pills, and regular monitoring from your doctor with adjustments to your dose or changes in your pills as required. So how much better would life be if you could simply be vaccinated against high blood pressure and forget about your daily pills?
Close to one in three Americans is currently suffering from high blood pressure but, because of the complex mix of medication often required for treatment, only about one third of these people actually have their blood pressure under control. However, this could be about to change.
In a trial conducted earlier this year (2007) 72 patients (65 men and 7 women with an average age of just over 51) who were suffering from mild to moderate hypertension were injected with a low dose (100 micrograms) vaccine, a high dose (300 micrograms) vaccine or a placebo. This injection was then repeated after four weeks and at the end of twelve weeks.
Two weeks after the end of the trial it was noted that the high dose vaccine patients were showing a drop of more than 5 mm Hg in their systolic (high reading) blood pressure and nearly 3 mm Hg in their diastolic (low reading) blood pressure.
More significantly, it was also noted that the typical, and often dangerous, spike in blood pressure which occurs in the early morning between 5 am and 8 am was also reduced significantly by 25 mm Hg systolic and 13 mm Hg diastolic.
The trial patients all tolerated the vaccine without difficulty and no safety issues arose during the course of the trial.
So just how does the vaccine work?
At the moment blood pressure is controlled using a number of drugs which are designed to act on the body in different ways. Two of the classes of drugs in common use are angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors (such as Lotensin, Capoten, Vasotec, Monopril, Prinivil, Zestril, Univasc, Aceon, Accupril, Altace and Mavik) and angiotensin-2 (AT-2) receptor blockers (such as Atacand, Teveten, Avapro, Cozaar and Micardis). In both cases these drugs work by blocking the action of a hormone which causes the blood vessels to constrict and thus to raise the pressure within the blood vessels.
The trial vaccine, which is known as CYT006-ANgQb, is designed to work in exactly the same manner as these two existing drugs and so may certainly provide an alternative for those patients whose condition is currently controlled with ACE inhibitors or AT-2 receptor blockers.
But what about those patients whose high blood pressure is currently being controlled using the alternatives of beta blockers (such as Sectral, Tenormin, Kerlone, Ziac, Zebeta, Cartol, Lopressor, Toprol XL, Corgard, Inderal, Betapace and Blocadren) or calcium channel blockers (such as Norvasc, Lotrel, Vascor, Cardizem, Tiazac, Plendil, Adalat, Procardia, Nimotop, Sular, Calan, Isoptin and Verelan)?
Well, it is early days yet and further trials will be needed before we see a vaccine in general use for the treatment of high blood pressure. However, if the researchers are right, it is likely that this vaccine will be effective for the majority of sufferers, regardless of the treatment currently being given.
Only time will tell, but this is most certainly a very encouraging development.