Hello Health Rounds readers! With new weight-loss drugs all the rage, today we feature a study that found a benefit from the treatment in addition to shedding pounds. We also highlight a study of an experimental immunotherapy that may save patients with lung failure caused by infection. And we have a study that sheds new light on the rise in colorectal cancers among younger people.
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New weight-loss drugs can lower blood pressure in patients with obesity and hypertension, recent findings suggest. REUTERS/Mark Makela
New weight-loss drugs may help control blood pressure
Popular new weight loss medications may help lower blood pressure in adults with obesity, researchers said in a paper published on Monday in the journal Hypertension.
In the 500-patient study that was part of a larger weight-loss trial, those who received the 5 milligram dose of tirzepatide – sold by Eli Lilly as Mounjaro and Zepbound – for an average of about 8 months had a reduction in systolic blood pressure (the top number) of 7.4 millimeters of mercury (Hg).
Patients taking 10 mg or 15 mg had average reductions of 10.6 mm Hg and 8.0 mm Hg, respectively.
These effects were evident during both day and night blood pressure measurements, researchers said.
The study was not long enough to determine the treatment’s impact on actual cardiovascular events such as heart attack and heart failure, and the researchers did not look at what happens to blood pressure when medications like tirzepatide are discontinued.
Still, “the blood pressure reduction in our patients in this study was impressive,” study leader Dr. James de Lemos of UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas said in a statement.
“While it is not known if the impact on blood pressure was due to the medication or the participants’ weight loss, the lower blood pressure measures seen with tirzepatide rivaled what is seen for many hypertension medications,” he added.
A separate study published on Monday in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that in patients with obesity and hypertension, weight loss surgery is superior to standard anti-hypertensive drugs for lowering blood pressure.
Five years after 100 such patients had been randomly assigned to undergo bariatric surgery or a variety of blood pressure medicines from classes such as angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, angiotensin receptor blockers (ARB), calcium channel blockers, or diuretics, 46% in the surgery group had well controlled blood pressure without taking medication for it, compared to 2.4% of those who hadn’t had surgery.
New therapy may rescue infected patients with lung failure
A new type of therapy that has shown promise in cancer patients could also improve survival odds for patients with lung failure due to severe viral infection, according to early trial results.
Patients in the trial had severe acute respiratory syndrome (ARDS) as a complication of COVID-19 and were being kept alive on mechanical breathing machines.
The survival rate at 30 days was 70% in the 20 patients treated with agenT-797 from Mink Therapeutics, versus 10% in 20 similar patients who received usual care.
AgenT-797 contains killer T cells – white blood cells that destroy abnormal cells, including cancer cells and those infected by viruses or bacteria – made from healthy donor cells, researchers reported on Tuesday in Nature Communications.
AgenT-797 “rescues” exhausted immune-system T cells and prompts them to produce inflammation- and infection-fighting cytokines, according to the report.
Researchers saw an 80% lower rate of bacterial pneumonia in patients who received the largest dosages of AgenT-797 cells, compared to those who received lower dosages.
Five patients treated with AgenT-797 were also receiving extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), which the researchers say is the most aggressive therapy available for critically ill ARDS patients.
Six months later, 3 of the 5 patients (60%) were alive, compared to 51% of 35 similar patients who were treated with just ECMO at the same institution over the same time frame.
Study co-author Justin Stebbing of Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge, England said the treatment can be manufactured rapidly and is ‘off-the-shelf,’ meaning it can be ready for use without coming from the patient being treated.
“The potential of this therapy to be used across a number of severe infections warrants randomized controlled trials,” he said.
Researchers find differences in young-onset colon cancer
New findings may improve understanding of the recent increase in colorectal cancers (CRC) among younger patients around the world by showing how their tumors differ from those in older patients, researchers say.
“Our team discovered that bacteria were more abundant and compositionally distinct in tumors from young-onset patients,” Dr. Alok Khorana of the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio said in a statement of patients under age 50.
Khorana’s team used gene sequencing technology to analyze tissue samples from 136 young-onset colorectal cancer patients and 140 average-age patients with the disease, according to a report published in eBioMedicine.
They identified unique tumor-related bacteria in the younger cohort, along with differences in tumor locations.
The incidence of CRC in U.S. patients under age 50 rose from 8.6 per 100,000 in 1992 to 12.9 per 100,000 in 2018, with similar patterns reported in European countries, earlier studies have shown.
“By detailing this microbial signature of young-onset disease, we can look toward new screening biomarkers and drugs targeting related bacteria,” study leader Dr. Shimoli Barot, also of the Cleveland Clinic, said in a statement.