Drugs designed to stop the growth of cancer could offer a new way to control high blood pressure, according to new research by Georgetown University Medical Centre in the US.
The study, which has been published in the journal Hypertension, found that fibroblast growth factors, or FGFs, involved in increasing blood vessel growth so that cancer can grow, also have a systemic effect on blood pressure.
The study suggests that just as oncologists use FGF inhibitors to control cancer, clinicians may be able to use FGF inhibitors to regulate blood pressure and control diseases associated with hypertension.
The researchers learned about a population in Eastern Europe that had high levels of hypertension, and that it was linked with a gene called FGFBP1.
When they switched on FGFBP1 in a mouse model, their blood pressure rose dramatically.
The study’s senior investigator, Anton Wellstein, said: ‘It actually went up from a normal blood pressure to pretty bad hypertension. It was amazing.’
‘It’s rare that a single class of drugs can be used for such different conditions, but that is what our study strongly suggests.’
‘Of course, we can’t say that this tactic will work in humans with hypertension, but it will be straightforward to test this rather surprising possibility to target a new mechanism of blood pressure control.’
The findings could offer a real advance in hypertension treatment because although a number of high blood pressure drugs are available, they work by different mechanisms that are not suitable for all patients.