Treating high blood pressure

Treating high blood pressure

A new target for treating high blood pressure – the world’s biggest killer

High blood pressure (hypertension) is the single biggest cause of heart disease, stroke and kidney failure. But current hypertension treatments are inefficient, with unpleasant side effects. New treatment targets and medicines are urgently needed. We found a possible new drug target on nerve endings that control blood pressure. Implants to stimulate these endings reduce blood pressure extremely well, even where drugs have failed. But, surgery is expensive and risky so only used in extreme disease, making many patients too ill to treat. We aim to stimulate these endings with new medicines. This removes the need for surgery and makes the treatment available to everyone. This is a very exciting prospect for treating the world’s biggest killer.

Major blood vessels, like this aorta, have the most important nerves for monitoring blood pressure, with specialised endings called baroreceptors. We search for drugs to boost their sensitivity. We have shown that some drugs can trigger reflexes to reduce blood pressure. This should allow new classes of medicines to be developed – and hopefully more effective than the inefficient ones used currently.

Funded by the British Heart Foundation


Project team:

Dr Guy Bewick (Research scientist, University of Aberdeen)

Prof Julian Paton (Research scientist, University of Bristol UK & Otago, New Zealand)

Prof Ken O’Halloran (Research scientist, University of Cork, Ireland)