A new vaccine has been developed by researchers that can lower bad cholesterol in mice and macaques. The authors of the study, from the University of New Mexico and the National Institutes of health in the United States, say the vaccine has the potential to be a more powerful treatment than statins alone.
The body produces cholesterol to make vitamin D, some hormones and some of the molecules that help us digest food. Cholesterol is also found in foods. LDL cholesterol is a fat-like substance that circulates in the blood; if there is too much cholesterol, the arteries can become blocked, leading to heart disease and stroke.
‘The new cholesterol vaccine targets a protein that control cholesterol levels in the blood and could be a powerful new treatment for high cholesterol.
According to the CDC, 73.5 million adults in the United States have high LDL cholesterol. Diet and exercise are key to keeping cholesterol down, but millions of people worldwide take statins to lower their cholesterol.
Statins have some potentially serious side effects, such as muscle pain, an increased risk of diabetes and cognitive loss.
The new vaccine could provide an alternative to statins, by targeting a protein that controls cholesterol levels in the blood.
A single vaccine has been shown to reduce cholesterol levels dramatically in mice and macaques, suggesting it could be an effective treatment in humans.
Alan Remaley, one of the authors, said that 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. The results were very striking, and suggest it could be a powerful new treatment for high cholesterol.
The study is published in Vaccine.