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Twice-yearly jab to lower blood pressure could be offered as an alternative to daily pills by 2025

  • Queen Mary University of London are studying a new drug on 730 patients 
  • Zilebesiran works by reducing the hormone that causes vasoconstriction 
  • It is injected twice a year and could offer a ‘more manageable’ solution
  • Daily ACE inhibitors are currently the most prescribed hypertension medication

Millions of people may soon get injections that lowers their blood pressure, spelling the end of taking tablets every day.

The world-first treatment — currently being trialled on NHS patients — is given as an injection every six months.

Experts hope it will be widely available in three to five years’ time, which could prove a game-changer for the 14million Britons with hypertension.

The new drug, called Zilebesiran, targets a protein called angiotensinogen, detrol elderly side effects which is produced by the liver and involved in regulating blood pressure.

Its creators say that it could be a ‘more manageable, practical solution’ for patients, removing the risk of forgetting daily blood pressure tablets.

Daily blood pressure pills could be replaced by a single heart-attack preventing injection taken twice a year, under technology currently being trialled by the NHS

Some 100 patients across the UK will be part of the 630 patients worldwide involved in the new research by Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) and Barts Health NHS Trust. 

The study, funded by Alnylam Pharmaceuticals and supported by the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR), is due to run for three years.

It will look into the safety of zilebesiran injections and how effective they are at controlling blood pressure in patients with mild to moderate hypertension.

WHAT IS ZILEBESIRAN? 

Zilebesiran is an experimental drug produced by Alnylam Pharmaceuticals for hypertension.

If it proves safe and effective in Phase 2 trials conducted by Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) and Barts Health NHS Trust, researchers hope it could replace daily pills.

Instead, it only has to be taken once every six months as an injection. 

It works by reducing a hormone produced by the liver that triggers vasoconstriction — the tightening of veins and arteries that increases blood pressure.

Phase 1 trials on 84 patients showed a single dose reduced the concentration of the hormone in people’s blood by at least 90 per cent after three weeks.

The effect was sustained after 12 weeks, giving scientists hope the drug could control blood pressure levels for extended periods.

It is an experimental drug that has not yet been used in any other treatments. 

The most commonly used blood pressure drugs, ACE inhibitors, work by blocking an enzyme which activates a protein that narrows blood vessels, causing high blood pressure.

But the new long-acting drug blocks that protein, angiotensinogen, ‘at the source’, by scrambling genetic code to stop the protein being made in the liver.

Phase 1 trials on 84 patients showed a single dose reduced the concentration of the hormone in people’s blood by at least 90 per cent after three weeks.

The effect was sustained after 12 weeks, giving scientists hope the drug could control blood pressure levels for extended periods.

Scientists will test the drug against a placebo on patients aged 18 to 75.

Dr Manish Saxena, study lead and deputy clinical director at QMUL, said: ‘We are excited to be trialling this first-of-its-kind approach to research if it is safe and effective for the treatment of high blood pressure.

‘Solving health challenges on this scale cannot be achieved by one person or entity alone. 

‘We are thrilled to be working alongside Alnylam and combining our expertise to hopefully change modern medicine.’

Dr Saxena added: ‘It is early days but our ultimate hope is that the treatment proves to be a safe and more manageable, practical solution to tackling high blood pressure.

‘A twice-yearly treatment with injection underneath the skin would provide a better alternative to taking daily medication, which we believe would be welcome news for patients and make treating hypertension more convenient.’

Around a third of adults in the UK have high blood pressure but many might not know it, according to the NHS. It is estimated to cost the health service £2.1billion per year.

Around 34million adults in the US are prescribed medication for hypertension.

While it often does not have noticeable symptoms, if hypertension is not treated it can increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

Professor Sir Nilesh Samani, medical director at the BHF, said: ‘This exciting trial could lead to good news for the millions of people across the UK with high blood pressure, many of whom need to take daily medication to lower their risk of heart attacks and strokes.

‘The study will determine whether an injection given twice a year lowers blood pressure sufficiently over a prolonged period. 

‘If this proves to be the case, it may provide an alternative to taking daily pills for some patients.’

It comes after regulators last year approved cholesterol-lowering jabs that are taken twice a year as an alternative to statins.

The ‘game-changing’ treatment, inclisiran, will be offered to hundreds of thousands of people.

Boris Johnson is told to introduce a mandatory salt target to save the NHS from obesity crisis 

Boris Johnson has been urged to introduce a mandatory salt target to save the NHS from an obesity crisis.

A group of over 236 nutritionists, dietitians, researchers, pharmacists, nurses and GPs wrote an open letter to the Prime Minister today urging him to introduce the measure.

Signatories include members of the Royal Society for Public Health, the Faculty of Public Health, Blood Pressure UK, Early Start Nutrition, Heart UK and London Early Years Foundation. 

Professor Graham MacGregor, a cardiovascular medicine expert at Queen Mary University of London and Chairman of Action on Salt, said: ‘Reducing salt is the most cost-effective measure for lowering blood pressure and reducing the number of people suffering and dying from strokes, heart disease and life changing disabilities. 

‘Food companies have the very simple option to reformulate with less salt and help prevent the many thousands of people who currently die unnecessarily. 

‘However, companies are making very little effort to comply with the current voluntary targets. As a result, the amount of salt the nation eats is not falling. 

‘Therefore, the Government must enforce its comprehensive salt reduction targets without delay.’

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