US Pharm. 2007;32(12):8.

Blood Pressure Vaccine Shows Promise
Swiss researchers say their work in producing a viable blood pressure vaccine is on the right course. According to Dr. Juerg Nussberger, a professor of medicine at University Hospital of the Canton of Vaud in Lausanne, Switzerland, while their trial was very small, it uncovered no safety issues, the vaccine was well tolerated by participants, and it was shown to be effective in reducing blood pressure.

"It was a small dose, and the trial was done in a conservative way," said Dr. Nussberger. "The big hope is that you could give a few doses [of vaccine], and that would be it for life, then you wouldn't have some of the compliance issues related to taking medications on a daily basis." The investigators explained that the new vaccine, known as CYT006-AngQb, works by inhibiting angiotensin II, similar to oral dosage forms of angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors and angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs).

The researchers said they discovered another unexpected benefit from their study: the vaccine appeared to dampen the typical blood pressure surge that occurs during the early morning hours when the risk of heart attack and stroke is highest. One downside that was uncovered during the trial is that the vaccine produced a slight increase in renin levels. Renin is an enzyme that is thought to cause inflammation and play a role in kidney failure.

The investigators said the vaccine needs more testing. In addition, because the vaccine would presumably be working all the time, they want to see if the body would allow a drug to raise a patient's blood pressure while on the vaccine.

Women Getting Less Cardiovascular Benefit from Taking Aspirin
The power of aspirin in preventing some cardiovascular events has been widely published in medical and pharmacy journals for some time. And while those effects were thought to affect men and women equally, new research shows that aspirin's protective qualities may not be as beneficial for women as it is for men.

Researchers at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, who studied the results of a meta-analysis discovered that trials that included predominately men showed the largest risk reduction in nonfatal MI, whereas trials with predominately women participants showed no significant benefit. According to Dr. Don D. Sin, MD, of the University of British Columbia and St. Paul's Hospital, and colleagues, no significant effect in prevention of fatal MI was seen regardless of gender.

MRSA More Widespread than Previously Thought
A recent study in the medical journal JAMA confirms that infections caused by methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is indeed more widespread than previously thought and affecting certain populations disproportionately. Also, more cases are being discovered outside of health care settings.

The authors of the study, R. Monina Klevens, DDS, MPH, of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, and colleagues said that as "MRSA disease changes, including both community- and health care-associated disease, accurate information on the scope and magnitude of the burden of MRSA disease in the U.S. population is needed to set priorities for prevention and control." The investigators observed nearly 9,000 cases of MRSA and nearly 1,600 in-hospital deaths among patients with MRSA. They estimated that "94,360 invasive MRSA infections occurred in the United States in 2005. These infections were associated with death in 18,650 cases." They concluded "MRSA disease is a major public health problem and is primarily related to health care but no longer confined to acute care."

Statins Work Even After Therapy Is Discontinued
A report from investigators at the University of Glasgow, Scotland, revealed that the positive effect statins have on cardiovascular disease could last a decade after drug therapy is discontinued. "It seems to be that [statins] have the power of patching up damage in the arteries and preventing progression of the disease,"said the researchers. Reporting on the trial in which a group of 6,600 men on a statin were observed over a 15-year period, Ian Ford, professor of biostatistics at the University of Glasgow and lead author, commented that there was a cardiovascular benefit even for men in the study who were no longer taking the drug. "About 50% of the benefits were seen in men no longer taking the drug. We believe that five years of treatment essentially restored damage done by diet, smoking, and high blood pressure, stopping the buildup of cholesterol in the arterial wall."

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