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Commonly Used Blood Pressure Drug Prevents Smoking-Related Lung Damage In Mice

Posted Jan 02 2012 1:03pm

Working with mice, scientists at Johns Hopkins have successfully used a commonly prescribed blood pressure medicine, losartan (Cozaar), to prevent almost all of the lung damage caused from two months of exposure to cigarette smoke.  The treatment specifically targeted lung tissue breakdown, airway wall thickening, inflammation and lung over-expansion.

As a result of the experiments, efforts already are under way at Johns Hopkins for a clinical trial of the drug in people with smoking-related chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), the long-term consequence of smoking and for which, until now, there are no known potential treatments to prevent or repair the resulting lung damage.  COPD is the third leading cause of death in the United States, mostly in people with either chronic bronchitis or emphysema, or both; some 12 million Americans have been diagnosed with COPD.  Funding of the trial is from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and the drug’s manufacturer, Merck & Co.

“The results of our study in mice suggest that losartan or similar drugs could serve as an effective treatment for smoking-related lung diseases in humans,” says study senior investigator for the animal experiments, Enid Neptune, M.D. “And because these drugs are already approved for use in the United States as safe and effective treatments for hypertension, incorporating them into our treatment regimen for COPD would be quite rapid,” adds Neptune, a pulmonologist and an associate professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

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