Ludwig Johns Hopkins researchers to clinically evaluate use of blood pressure drug to prevent serious complication

MAY 22, 2020, New York- Researchers in the Ludwig Center at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center have received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the clinical trial of a generic blood pressure medication to prevent the most serious complication of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Previous research done on mice by the Ludwig Johns Hopkins team showed how prazosin, an alpha blocker that relaxes blood vessels to treat hypertension, specifically quells an extreme inflammatory process referred to as cytokine release syndrome (or cytokine storm). This overreaction of the immune system is associated with severe complications and an increased risk of death form COVID-19.

The researchers, led by Ludwig Johns Hopkins investigator Chetan Bettegowda, argued in a letter published April 30 in the Journal of Clinical Investigation that using prazosin pre-emptively to address COVID-19-associated hyperinflammation of the lungs and other organs has the potential to reduce deaths in the most vulnerable populations. Preliminary results of a retrospective clinical study support this hypothesis.

More detail about the scientific foundations of the trial and its necessity are available in the Johns Hopkins news release from which this summary is derived.

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