"The results of our vaccine were very striking, and suggest it could be a powerful new treatment for high cholesterol."
A new vaccine to lower cholesterol rates has bee proven effective in both mice and macaque monkeys. Researches believe that this vaccine could be a more effective treatment than statins alone.
Working in collaboration with scientists from the University of New Mexico, the US National Institute of Health has designed a vaccine that target the protein responsible for controlling cholesterol levels in the blood, PCSK9. So far, the vaccine has managed to dramatically reduce the cholesterol levels of mice and monkeys.
“One of the most exiting things about this new vaccine is it seems to be much more effective than statins alone,” said co-author Dr. Bryce Chackerian, from the University of New Mexico.
The body produces cholesterol naturally in order to make certain hormones and to better digest food. However, cholesterol is also found in many foods resulting in more of the fatty substance than the body can handle. It ends up circulating in the blood stream and can potentially clog arteries causing heart attacks or strokes.
The Center of Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 73.5 million adults in the United States have unsafe levels of cholesterol. Diet and exercise can keep the amount of cholesterol in the blood stream in check. However, instead of doing this millions of Americans take statins to lower their cholesterol, despite the negative side effects the medication causes such as muscle pain and increased risk of diabetes.
“Statins are still the most commonly prescribed medication for cholesterol. Although they are effective in many people, they do have side effects and don’t work for everyone,” said co-auther Dr. Alan Remaley, from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (part of the National Institutes of Health). “The results of our vaccine were very striking, and suggest it could be a powerful new treatment for high cholesterol.”
The researchers hope to begin human trials in the near future.