Scientists led by an Indian-origin researcher are investigating whether treatment for high blood pressure can be improved by taking a person’s ethnic heritage into account.
A wide variety of drugs are available for the treatment of blood pressure and although these are effective and safe, it is often necessary to try different types of drugs and use a combination of two or more drugs.
Delay in choosing the right kind of tablet or combination of tablets through “trial and error” is a major problem and, in a large proportion of people with hypertension, blood pressure is not adequately controlled.
Relatively little is known about why some people respond better to one kind of tablet or combination of tablets than others.
It has been found that response to treatment differs in different ethnic groups in the UK and may differ between populations in Europe, Asia and Africa.
Scientists at the University of Glasgow are working, with a consortium led by King’s College London, to see if genetic markers of ancestry, combined with a detailed measure of chemical ‘metabolites’ circulating in the blood that characterise the biochemical processes in each person can predict the best type of drug for that person.
The study, funded by the Medical Research Council and the British Heart Foundation, aims to deliver personalised treatment for high blood pressure, based on a single blood test that captures the genetic and other biological factors that determine how an individual will respond.
“High blood pressure is currently treated using a range of generic, low cost drugs which are not always effective. We plan to use 21st century high-throughput genomics and metabolomics to try and explain the mechanism for the known differences in drug response observed in different ethnic groups and see if we can use this knowledge to improve hypertension treatment,” said Professor Sandosh Padmanabhan, the lead investigator at Glasgow.
High blood pressure is extremely common within the general population in the UK and worldwide and is a major cause of heart disease, kidney disease and stroke.
One in three of the UK population will require treatment for hypertension at some point in their lives.
It’s the biggest contributor to the global burden of disease, a burden that is particularly great in ethnic minorities in the UK and in lower and middle income countries.
It is also the commonest reason for people to be prescribed long-term medication by their GP.
The consortium also comprises: Universities of Cambridge, Nottingham, Manchester; UCL, Queen Mary, MRC Biostatistics Unit, Mayo Clinic and Foundation, University of Florida.