The blood pressure injection you need just twice a year
Jab blocks effects of a hormone in body that triggers high blood pressure
So far been tested only on rats, and successfully lowered high readings
By Pat Hagan
A vaccine given just twice a year could keep high blood pressure at bay. The jab could free millions of people from the burden of taking pills every day to keep their condition under control.
It works by blocking the effects of a hormone in the body that triggers high blood pressure by making the muscles surrounding blood vessels contract.
This chemical, called angiotensin 2, forces muscles to keep contracting, which makes blood vessels narrower and increases the pressure on vessel walls – raising the risk of a heart attack or stroke. The vaccine prompts the immune system to release antibodies that stop angiotensin 2 from reaching the muscles.
The experimental jab, which has so far been tested only on rats, successfully lowered their high readings and kept blood pressure at lower, safer levels for at least six months before a booster was needed.
Researchers at Osaka University in Japan, where the jab is being developed, hope to carry out trials on humans within the next two years. High blood pressure, or hypertension, affects one in five adults in the UK and is thought to be responsible for half of all heart attacks and strokes.
It develops when blood vessel walls lose their ability to stretch and dilate, restricting the flow of blood through the body.
In some patients, it’s possible to get readings down by eating less salt and taking more exercise, but millions need pills to control it.
One of the main treatments is a class of drugs known as angiotensin 2 receptor blockers (ARBs).
These work by stopping angiotensin 2 from locking on to receptors on the outside of muscle cell walls and thereby triggering the dangerous contractions that cause high blood pressure.