Blood pressure drugs could double as topical wound fix

Share this content:
The topical gel helps healing by increasing blood flow to wounds.
The topical gel helps healing by increasing blood flow to wounds.

A topical gel made from common blood pressure pills has been proven to speed the healing of chronic skin wounds in mice and pigs.

An international research team led by Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine is seeking FDA approval for use on treatment-resistant wounds among diabetics and older adults.

The gel could be the first new wound-healing drug given the green light in more than 10 years.

“Using medicines that have been available for more than two decades, we think we have shown that this class of medicines holds great promise in effectively healing chronic wounds that are prevalent in diabetic and aged patients,” Peter Abadir, M.D., associate professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins, said in announcing the findings.

The full study appeared in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology.

Abadir and colleagues experimented with gel formulations of angiotensin II receptor antagonists, a long-standing class of drugs including losartan and valsartan, prescribed to treat hypertension. The drugs block skin's inflammatory response — which is abnormally regulated in diabetics and older patients — and increase blood flow to wounds. 

Mice whose treatment began seven days after a wound developed experienced the most accelerated wound healing compared to other application start times and a control group. 

In pigs, whose skin is more human-like, 12 of 12 wounds treated with a 1% solution were closed after 50 days.