New Drug in Development that Could Permanently Lower Cholesterol

Researchers are working on a treatment that could help millions of Americans achieve better lifelong health. Recent studies with mice have shown that a new injection disables a certain gene, resulting in lower cholesterol levels and a reduced risk for heart disease. This development is especially significant since heart disease is the United States’ most expensive disease.

In 2005, researchers found that people born with natural mutations involving this gene have very low cholesterol levels. The preliminary drug mimics this naturally-occurring mutation and prevents the body from making cholesterol-enabling proteins. Compared to existing cholesterol-lowering drugs that are extremely expensive and require multiple injections every two to four weeks, this new one-time treatment offers a radically different alternative, which has been more effective in trials than the existing antibody drugs. It also results in few to no side-effects, which is a huge bonus for people who are sometimes sensitive to certain drugs.

This injection treatment would permanently alter a person’s DNA so before it can be applied to humans, researchers must continue to test its safety. These mice studies seem very promising, according to Lorenz Mayr from the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca. However, human trials are still at least a decade away, and in the meantime animal models are propelling this research forward.