Heartening news for people who're trying to reduce bad cholesterol and fatty acid levels. A new study has made a key discovery, which can lead to new drugs to treat and reverse the effects of Type 2 diabetes and heart disease related to obesity.
The study, led by Dr. Richard Lehner, a senior scholar for the Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research, have found a way to reduce the amount of bad cholesterol and fatty acids that end up in the blood from food the body metabolises.
Lehner's group studied the mechanisms behind the well-known facts that eating too much fat and sugar, and too little exercise makes a person fat, and that obesity often leads to diabetes and heart disease.
In the study, the researchers reported that they successfully decreased the level of LDL, the so-called bad cholesterol, in the blood of mice and hamsters by manipulating a particular enzyme.
Drugs called statins are used to lower LDL (Low-Density Lipids) levels in patients, but they do not treat obesity.
What makes the findings striking is the discovery of how to inhibit LDL and triglycerides, which are another form of fat in the blood and a leading risk in obesity-related Type 2 diabetes as well as heart disease.
"We established the proof of principle of how these metabolic pathways work. We discovered the activity of an enzyme that releases fatty acids from fat cells and the liver into the blood and how to inhibit this from happening," Lehner said.
"There is a substantial pharmacological interest in the enzymes that control TG (triglycerides - fatty acids) and cholesterol metabolism in tissues," he added.
Lehner noted that the discovery was an important scientific breakthrough, but requires further testing.
He also said that a pill would not be 'a magic bullet' and added, people still need to make the right lifestyle choices by exercising and eating properly.
The study is published in Journal of Lipid Research.