U of M researchers finds that losartan is not effective in reducing COVID-19 lung injuries

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MINNEAPOLIS/ST. PAUL (03/16/2022) A study published in JAMA Network Open, from the University of Minnesota, found that a common blood pressure medication — losartan — is not effective in reducing lung injury in patients with COVID-19. 

This drug was investigated based on early reports suggesting benefit in preclinical models of the 2003 SARS virus, a close family member to the current SARS-CoV-2 virus. This study was conducted across 12 U.S. academic research institutions. 

The U of M Medical School and School of Public Health research team sought to determine if a common blood pressure medication might decrease lung injury in patients admitted to the hospital with COVID-19. Their results found that losartan treatment did not reduce lung injury in patients admitted with COVID-19, and had no effect on mortality. 

The researchers also found that critically-ill patients treated with losartan needed additional, temporary blood pressure support — though this did not lead to worse outcomes overall.

”Even though this particular drug was not effective for the treatment of COVID-19, repurposing inexpensive and relatively safe medications remains an important approach to contain healthcare costs,” said Michael Puskarich, MD, an associate professor in emergency medicine at the U of M Medical School and co-author of this study. 

“Finding effective treatments for COVID-19 that can be widely used across both the developed and developing world remains an important ongoing area of investigation,” Puskarich said, who is also an emergency physician at Hennepin Healthcare.

This study was funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The researchers note that more studies of protein and cellular signaling from ALPS-COVID trial participants are ongoing. 

“We hope that future study findings of these proteins may show insights into why the body responds the way it does to COVID-19,” said Christopher Tignanelli, MD, MS, FACS, FAMIA, an assistant professor in surgery at the U of M Medical School and co-author on this study. “Critically, this will help us understand why some people develop severe disease following COVID-19 infection and others are asymptomatic.” 

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Contact:

Kat Dodge
kdodge@umn.edu

About the University of Minnesota Medical School
The University of Minnesota Medical School is at the forefront of learning and discovery, transforming medical care and educating the next generation of physicians. Our graduates and faculty produce high-impact biomedical research and advance the practice of medicine. We acknowledge that the U of M Medical School, both the Twin Cities campus and Duluth campus, is located on traditional, ancestral and contemporary lands of the Dakota and the Ojibwe, and scores of other Indigenous people, and we affirm our commitment to tribal communities and their sovereignty as we seek to improve and strengthen our relations with tribal nations. For more information about the U of M Medical School, please visit med.umn.edu

​​About the University of Minnesota School of Public Health
The University of Minnesota School of Public Health improves the health and wellbeing of populations and communities around the world by bringing innovative research, learning, and concrete actions to today’s biggest health challenges. We prepare some of the most influential leaders in the field, and partner with health departments, communities, and policymakers to advance health equity for all. Learn more at sph.umn.edu.

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