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Hormone-based Heart Pill to Control High Blood Pressure

be a leading cause of death and disability in Western countries, and kidney disease is a fast-growing threat to public health. These two disease processes are linked by the fact that they both are often the result of high blood pressure. "New treatment strategies are therefore urgently needed," Dr. Burnett says. In tackling heart disease, Mayo Clinic researchers considered the heart from a different perspective -- not merely a mechanical pump, as it is traditionally regarded, but as a hormone-secreting endocrine organ.

"To view the heart this way is a distinct innovation that presents new opportunities for cures that we’ve made good progress toward exploring," Dr. Burnett says. The researchers were the first to harness the natural properties of the heart hormone BNP, working in partnership with scientists from the biotechnology firm, Biocon, and to formulate it so it can be taken orally, in pill form. BNP’s therapeutic properties include its ability to dilate blood vessels, promote salt discharge in urine, and prevent both excessive cell growth and growth of fibrous tissues. The researchers tested the oral BNP by inducing high blood pressure in laboratory animals, and then giving them the experimental drug. Results showed that the experimental oral drug reduced the mean arterial pressure steadily over time, beginning at 30 minutes after the oral treatment was given, and continuing to reduce blood pressure for two hours, the study’s endpoint.

"Clearly, this novel oral form of BNP significantly reduces mean arterial pressure in an experimental model of high blood pressure," says Dr. Burnett. "Our findings are both exciting and important because they advance an innovative strategy of orally administering BNP therapy for cardiovascular diseases such as high blood pressure."

The Heart-Kidney Link In heart failure, the kidneys also can become impaired and salt and water retention can occur, resulting in congestion. Reduced kidney funct
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