A commonly prescribed blood pressure medicine, losartan (Cozaar), may prevent lung damage caused from exposure to cigarette smoke. That is according to a recent study published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.
Working with mice, researchers at Johns Hopkins have successfully used losartan to prevent almost all of the lung damage caused by two months’ exposure to cigarette smoke. As a result of these findings, efforts are currently underway for a clinical trial of the drug in people with smoking-related chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Until now, there have been no known potential treatments to prevent or repair lung damage resulting from exposure to cigarette smoke. This study is considered a breakthrough discovery because it is the first to show that a drug already in clinical use can prevent most of the serious consequences of smoking in an animal test model, preserving both lung structure and function.
“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,” says Enid Neptune, M.D., a pulmonologist and an associate professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and study senior investigator for the animal experiments. “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.”