The American Lung Association's Airways Clinical Research Centers (ACRC) and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Pulmonary Trials are teaming up to conduct a study to see if a common blood pressure medication can help patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a disease that includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis. The study, Losartan Effects on Emphysema Progression (LEEP) Clinical Trial, expands on research conducted by the ACRC. We talked with Robert Wise, M.D., who is the principal investigator along with Janet Holbrook, M.D., from Johns Hopkins University to learn about the trial and its potential benefits for patients living with COPD.
Q: What is COPD? A: COPD, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, is a lung disease that makes it difficult to breathe. With COPD, the airways in your lungs become inflamed and thickens, and the tissue where oxygen is exchanged is destroyed. The flow of air in and out of your lungs decreases, and when that happens, less oxygen gets into your body tissues, which over inflates your lungs and makes it harder to get rid of the waste gas, carbon dioxide.
Q: What is Losartan? A: Losartan is an approved drug commonly used to treat high blood pressure and congestive heart failure.
Q: What is the LEEP Clinical Trial? A: The LEEP Clinical Trial is based on work by Enid Neptune, M.D., of Johns Hopkins University who investigated Losartan as a potential treatment for Marfan syndrome (a genetic disorder that affects the body's connective tissue) and discovered that Losartan prevented lung damage caused by cigarette smoke. The LEEP Clinical Trial will expand on that research through the ACRC and test patients living with COPD and emphysema to find if Losartan has any effect on the disease progression.
Q: What's important about this trial? A: Currently, people with COPD use inhalers and oral steroids to treat symptoms and prevent them from worsening. There is no go-to therapy, however, that actually halts or slows the ongoing damage. This trial will investigate whether or not Losartan will be effective in changing the natural history of COPD.
Q: What's different about the ACRC's approach to this trial? A: In the past, evaluation of treatments that reduce emphysema progress have been limited because they require a large number of participants and extended follow-up to establish whether or not the proposed treatment was effective on lung function or mortality. As the nation's largest not-for-profit network of clinical research centers dedicated to COPD and asthma, the ACRC can leverage its network of 17 clinical research centers and 24 trial sites to recruit large numbers of patients, as well as make it possible for patients from across the country in many demographic groups to participate in the LEEP Clinical Trial.
Q: What's required of the trial's participants? A: The LEEP Clinical Trial will run for a year. Participants will take a lung health test and receive a high-resolution CT scan to determine the amount of lung damage they have at the start of the trial. During the trial, they will take one pill daily. At the end of their participation, each patient will have a CT scan to observe whether there are any changes in their lungs.