This site uses cookies to improve your experience and to provide services and advertising. By continuing to browse, you agree to the use of cookies described in our Cookies Policy. You may change your settings at any time but this may impact on the functionality of the site. To learn more see our Cookies Policy.
OK
Dublin: 16 °C Saturday 18 August, 2018
Advertisement

Cholesterol-lowering vaccine could be available in six years

The medication has shown promise in mice.

Image: Shutterstock/Africa Studio

A CHOLESTEROL-LOWERING vaccine has shown promise in mice, new research has shown.

Researchers have now announced they have started early-phase trials to see if it also works in humans.

Such a treatment could offer a welcome alternative to statins, the main pharmaceutical choice for lowering cholesterol in people at high risk of heart attack or stroke.

The vaccine, dubbed AT04A, reduced cholesterol levels in trial mice by half, and reversed damage done to blood vessels due to plaque buildup by more than 60%, researchers said in a statement.

The mice were given the vaccine after they were fed a fatty diet to resemble the high-cholesterol intake of a human Western-style diet.

“Levels of cholesterol were reduced in a consistent and long-lasting way,” study co-author Guenther Staffler of the AFFiRis biotech company developing the treatment, said.

This, in turn, resulted in “a reduction of fatty deposits in the arteries and atherosclerotic damage, as well as reduced arterial wall inflammation”.

Atherosclerosis occurs when a waxy compound lines the walls of blood vessels, limiting blood flow and potentially triggering dangerous blood clots.

LDL cholesterol 

Statins have been used for about 30 years to bring down “bad” LDL cholesterol blamed for such deposits. However, conflicting reports on statins’ benefits and harms have made headlines in recent years, prompting some people prescribed the drugs to stop taking them.

There is also uncertainty about the link between dietary fat and cholesterol, and even whether cholesterol in food is really unhealthy.

AT04A contains a molecule that causes the body to produce antibodies against an enzyme called PCSK9, which prevents the clearance of so-called “bad” cholesterol from the blood, according to a study published in the European Heart Journal.

The cholesterol-zapping antibodies persisted for months after vaccination, it said.

“If these findings translate successfully into humans, this could mean that … we could develop a long-lasting therapy that, after the first vaccination, just needs an annual booster,” Staffler said.

This would result in an effective and more convenient treatment for patients, as well as higher patient compliance.

A Phase I trial — the first step in a long, typically three-phase process to vet a drug for safety and effectiveness — has begun, its developers said. The drug could be available to humans in six years, but researchers say the vaccine shouldn’t be an excuse for people to not exercise or eat lots of high-fat food.

In a comment on the study, cardiologist Tim Chico of the University of Sheffield, said “many questions remain about whether this approach could work in man”.

© AFP 2017

Read: This I can carry – Irish exhibit shows the meagre possessions refugees hold following a harrowing journey

Read: Parents gather to discuss effect of ‘incredibly stupid’ Poolbeg incinerator

  • Share on Facebook
  • Email this article
  •  

About the author:

AFP

Read next:

COMMENTS (31)

This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
write a comment

    Leave a commentcancel

     

    Trending Tags