According to a new study, researchers have found a vaccine that shows promise in lowering the body’s cholesterol. However, they suggested that the vaccine may be more efficient if used in prevention, unlike the statins that help lower high cholesterol levels.
- Researchers developed vaccine against high cholesterol
- The vaccine targets the protein PCSK9, the one regulating the cholesterol in the blood
- Human trials are yet to happen; the vaccine was tested on mice and monkeys
- There’s a difference between bad and good cholesterol
The target of the vaccine is the protein PCSK9, the one responsible with breaking down the receptors that cholesterol binds to once it is disposed from the body. This protein is also in charge with regulating how much cholesterol gets to travel in the bloodstream.
This year alone, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved two new PCSK9-inhibitor pills, evolocumab and alirocumab. In spite of being more effective than traditional statins, these drugs didn’t gain popularity due to their high prices.
Published in the journal Vaccine, the study conducted by researchers from the University of New Mexico in collaboration with the U.S. National Institutes of Health is based on a new vaccine that can dramatically reduce low-density lipoprotein (LDL). Researchers tested the vaccine on macaque monkeys and mice.
In layman’s words, lipoproteins are the molecules acting as transport for cholesterol in the blood, seeing that cholesterol can’t dissolve in blood. There are two types of cholesterol carriers: low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL).
So what exactly is the difference between good and bad cholesterol? In non-medical terms, LDL is dubbed as the “bad cholesterol” due to its contribution to the plaques that form on the arteries’ walls.
When there’s a cholesterol surplus in the body, the LDLs are left circulating round and round in the blood. The molecules gradually deposit on the walls of arteries, slightly narrowing the passageway of blood with each passing. Such deposits can lead to elevated risk of cardiovascular conditions, particularly coronary artery disease.
On the other hand, the “good cholesterol” – HDL – deserves its reputation because it targets the LDLs that have already attached to the arterial walls. Dubbed as cholesterol scavengers, they collect circulating LDLs and those attached to arterial walls and take them back to the liver where they are broken down.
Therefore, increased levels of HDL mean lower LDL levels, but no worries if that isn’t your case. Physicians agree HDL levels can be elevated by lifestyle changes, such as losing weight, quitting smoking, starting a workout, and limiting alcohol intake.
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