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Wonder drug can help cut cholesterol for those unable to take statins

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
October 4th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

A fresh, new treatment called ALN-PCS is able to cut levels of "bad" cholesterol by more than half. Which is typically reduced by statins. The new drug is being heralded as a breakthrough to patients who are unable to take statins.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The trial tests in human beings have proven the potential benefits. The new drug blocks the production of a protein that destroys receptors that normally clear harmful LDL cholesterol from the blood.

Human tests involved 32 healthy volunteers with high LDL, or "bad" cholesterol. People were randomly assigned to receive either an injection of ALN-PCS or saline as a placebo. It was found that a single dose of the drug cut LDL levels by up to 57 percent.

AS was published in the medical journal The Lancet, the bigger the dose of the drug, the greater the reduction in LDL.

ALN-PCS, likely be developed in a pill form, "could be used for the one in five heart disease patients intolerant or resistant to statins, or to enhance their effects," trial investigator Kevin Fitzgerald, from Alnylam Pharmaceuticals says.

ALN-PCS works by blocking the production of the cholesterol regulator PCSK9, which is a protein that destroys low-density lipoprotein, or LDL receptors that normally clear LDL cholesterol from the blood.

Studies have proven that the mutations resulting in a rise in PCSK9 activity lead to a major increase in LDL cholesterol which contributes to the build up of plaque inside blood vessels, while genetic variants that cause less PCSK9 activity lower cholesterol dramatically.
 
"People with extremely high cholesterol are at increased risk of a heart attack and this approach could offer new hope for those who are resistant to statins," Professor Peter Weissberg, medical director at the British Heart Foundation says.

"These initial results add to growing evidence that blocking the action of a certain protein can dramatically lower 'bad' LDL cholesterol. More research is now needed to confirm this approach is both safe and effective at preventing heart attacks in the long term before it becomes widely available."

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Article brought to you by: Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)