Several vaccines are in the pipeline to reduce risk factors of heart disease, which can in the future be used to prevent heart attacks. Dr. Carl R. Alving of the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Silver Spring, Maryland, presented evidence implicating various infectious agents in the development of atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, and described developments in vaccines that may reduce heart disease risk factors such as high cholesterol.
The organism Chlamydia has been proven to increase atherosclerosis in humans. By vaccinating against Chlamydia, scientists say, we can lessen atherosclerotic changes in man. This in turn reduces the chances of heart attack.
Advertisement"The value of a vaccine against Chlamydia would be tremendously increased from a commercial and public health standpoint if atherosclerosis could be decreased," Alving pointed out. He mentioned that there are at least a half-dozen studies under way to determine whether Chlamydia vaccine does indeed reduce heart and blood vessel disease in humans.
AVANT Immunotherapeutics in Needham, Massachusetts has recently completed a preliminary trial of vaccine against cholesterol ester transfer protein (CETP), Alving stated. CETP is an enzyme that transfers cholesterol from high-density lipoproteins (HDL), the so-called "good cholesterol," to low-density lipoproteins (LDL), also known as "bad cholesterol." The vaccine boosts good cholesterol levels and reduces bad cholesterol by blocking this enzyme.
With such innovations happening in the field of immunology, people who are at risk for heart disease can breathe easy.