An effective cholesterol vaccine may soon wipe out statins, becoming a common treatment for high cholesterol levels affecting millions of U.S. citizens.
High cholesterol is a critical risk factor for heart disease. Affecting millions of U.S. citizens, high cholesterol contributes to the high mortality rate due to heart disease in the U.S. Typically, high cholesterol is treated with statins. However, statins are drugs that manifest a wide array of side effects, although they are widely prescribed.
A vaccine that could do away with cholesterol building up on artery walls and plaque buildup would be welcome to replace the daily use of statins to control high cholesterol. Researchers with the National Institutes of Health in collaboration with the University of Mexico have come up with a formula that complies with these requests. Thus, an effective cholesterol vaccine may soon wipe out statins.
Their research findings are published in the Vaccine journal. The cholesterol vaccine was tested with mice and monkeys so far and has proved to be highly efficient. New clinical trials must be conducted with human patients to account for results.
71 million U.S. adults are found to have LDL or what is known as bad cholesterol – low-density lipoprotein. Bad cholesterol is the type of cholesterol that leads to the buildup of plaque, clogging arteries in time.
There is also a good type of cholesterol. Known as high-density lipoprotein (HDL) this type of cholesterol has the capacity to remove LDL from one’s blood vessels and transport it to the liver for further processing.
Cholesterol is needed for hormone production in our bodies. In addition, normal levels of cholesterol are needed for the cell walls to grow healthy, as well as for our organs to develop and function properly. When LDL installs, this leads to the clogging of arteries, heart disease and potentially death.
Unfortunately under half of the U.S. adults diagnosed with LDL are being treated. Left unchecked, LDL raises the risk of heart disease two fold. But what if instead of daily statin treatment one vaccine could do away with LDL?
The research team targeted PCSK9, a protein produced in our body responsible for keeping cholesterol in check. When this protein suffers a mutation, the risk of LDL running rampant is higher. Thus, the researchers created a vaccine that targets this PCSK9. Tested on mice, the cholesterol vaccine stopped the production of PCSK9 which immediately lowered LDL in the blood. The cholesterol vaccine worked equally well with monkeys.
While other companies have developed drugs based on the same principle, their purchase price is incredibly high, reaching even 10,000 dollars a year. The new cholesterol vaccine is much cheaper and has proved more effective in mice and monkeys testing.
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