High blood pressure could be treated with a single injection twice a year, ending the need for daily pills for millions of Britons.
Scientists from Queen Mary University of London and the Barts Health NHS Trust will start testing Zilebesiran, a drug that prevents the production of a protein that constricts blood vessels.
Around one in three adults in Britain have high blood pressure, which increases the risk of heart attack, stroke, kidney disease, aneurysm and dementia.
Many people take daily pills such as ACE inhibitors, with around 15 million prescriptions for the drugs dispensed by the NHS each year.
Researchers hope to recruit around 630 patients worldwide for a three-year trial, with 100 of these patients from across the UK, and have already enrolled their first patient.
If successful, it could dramatically change the way high blood pressure is treated and help patients who have trouble remembering to take daily pills.
Dr Manish Saxena, study leader and deputy clinical director at Queen Mary University of London, said: “We are excited to test this first-of-its-kind research approach if it is safe and effective for the treatment of high blood pressure. .”
High blood pressure costs the NHS billions
High blood pressure is responsible for more than half of all strokes and heart attacks and costs the NHS more than £2.1billion each year.
Risk factors include being overweight, poor diet with excess salt and not enough fruits and vegetables, as well as smoking and lack of exercise.
The new drug works by blocking messages that tell the liver to produce a protein called angiotensinogen (AGT), which helps regulate blood flow by constricting blood vessels to increase pressure.
An injectable drug to treat cholesterol was recently tested and approved by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).
Professor Sir Nilesh Samani, Medical Director of the British Heart Foundation, said: “This exciting trial could lead to good news for the millions of people with high blood pressure across the UK, many of whom need to take medication. daily to reduce 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 turns out to be the case, it could be an alternative to taking pills daily for some patients. »
The study is funded by Alnylam Pharmaceuticals and supported by the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR).