A commonly prescribed blood pressure medicine, losartan (Cozaar), prevents almost all of the lung damage caused from two months of exposure to cigarette smoke in mice, scientists have found.
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.
"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," said 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," added Neptune, a pulmonologist and an associate professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
A result of the study has been published in the Jan. 3 edition of the Journal of Clinical Investigation.