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20 June 2017, 09:46 | Melissa Porter
An experimental vaccine against the cholesterol-related enzyme PCSK9 reduced atherosclerosis in mice
Monoclonal antibodies that target PCSK9, the most recently approved compounds that reduce cholesterol, are very effective, yet they have short-term effects that result in reapplication and are of higher cost.
PCSK9-the enzyme made in the liver locks the receptors of LDL cholesterol and decreases their capability to clear LDL cholesterol from the blood.
The researchers injected AT04A under the skin in mice that were fed fatty, Western-style food in order to induce high cholesterol and the development of atherosclerosis.
Human trials of a cholesterol-lowering vaccine to help prevent heart disease are under way after successful studies in mice.
"As a effect, levels of cholesterol were reduced in a consistent and long-lasting way, resulting in a reduction of fatty deposits in the arteries and atherosclerotic damage, as well as reduced arterial wall inflammation", Staffler added.
The AT04A vaccine induced high and persistent antibody levels against PCSK9, causing a significant reduction in plasma total cholesterol and bad cholesterol compared with controls.
This is the type of cholesterol which can block arteries.
"Therefore, one potential safety concern for long-term lowering of LDL cholesterol with a vaccine directed against PCSK9 is the potential for an increased risk of new onset diabetes".
Essentially it is an immunotherapy treatment.
Researchers at the Medical University of Vienna have now started the process of testing the vaccine on 72 human volunteers. The study is expected to complete at the end of this year.
However, before the vaccine can be licensed and rolled out to patients, larger scale trials focusing on effectiveness as well as safety will have to be carried out. In a comment on the study, cardiologist Tim Chico of the University of Sheffield, said "many questions remain about whether this approach could work in man". Currently, drugs are available for lowering LDL cholesterol, but patients need to consume them daily.
However, many patients report side-effects when taking a daily pill and some Global Positioning System are sceptical about the concept of giving so many people drugs from which...
People with high levels of LDL cholesterol, either due to their genetic inheritance, or to poor diet and lifestyles, are at much greater risk of developing cardiovascular disease prematurely.
While statins have for always been the main pharmaceutical choice for lowering cholesterol in people at high risk of heart attack or stroke, an alternative option might soon be available. Finding new ways to manage people's cholesterol levels is absolutely vital. AT04A, as the shot is called, targets a certain enzyme related to high cholesterol levels. This would mean that any study in humans would need to assess safety over many years, and it is possible that the effect on cholesterol levels would not be sustained long enough to be of benefit. "In the meantime, the best way to reduce your cholesterol is to quit smoking, eat a healthy balanced diet and take any prescribed medicine such as statins as recommended by your GP".
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