Vaccine to lower cholesterol levels in the pipeline
Scientists may have discovered a new vaccine which can drastically reduce high cholesterol levels. It focuses on a protein known as PCSK9, which has the job of regulating the cholesterol in the blood by encouraging our bodies to break down the receptors it sticks to as it's flushed out of our systems. When there's a mutation in the protein, people's levels increase as it's not evenly distributed and the individual is more at risk of health problems.
LDL cholesterol is fat-like and can block arteries, causing heart attacks and stroke. It does have some perks though as it leads to the production of vitamin D and some hormones that aid digestion. The vaccine targets the protein and gets rid of it, thus resulting in no excess cholesterol in the blood and making a person healthier on the inside.
The vaccine has also been proven to be more beneficial than statins, which millions of people take to lower their levels of cholesterol. It would be an alternative to using statins as during experiments it dramatically changed the health of mice and macaques, with humans hoped to be next on the testing list.
Dr Bryce Chackerian, one of the study's authors from the University of New Mexico, said: "One of the most exciting things about this new vaccine is it seems to be much more effective than statins alone."
Meanwhile fellow author Dr Alan Remaley of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health, noted that the vaccine also prevented side effects presented with statins. He feels confident that the vaccine will end up as a new "powerful" treatment to tackle the problem.
Studies into macaques are to continue and the recently findings were published in the journal Vaccine.