Coming Soon: A Cholesterol-Lowering Vaccine?
A new vaccine designed to lower cholesterol and help prevent heart disease is currently being tested in a clinical trial at the Medical University of Vienna in Austria. After successful animal studies, researchers are now studying the effects of the vaccine in 72 volunteers. If the vaccine is found to be safe and effective, it could one day provide an alternative to traditional treatments like statin therapy.
The vaccine helps the immune system attack a protein called PCSK9, which allows low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol to build up in the bloodstream. In animal studies, the vaccine reduced LDL cholesterol up to 50 percent over one year and appeared to protect against plaque build-up in the arteries.
The study is expected to last several years and many questions about the vaccine remain. If successful in human trials, treatment would most likely require yearly booster shots, according to researchers.