With heart disease the number one cause of death for men and women in the United States, the medical community has increasingly focused on how to lower cholesterol and reduce cardiac events like heart attacks.
While drugs like statins and other medications have helped mitigate some of these risks and control cholesterol levels, researchers are now investigating if a vaccine could be an even better option.
Researchers based in Austria and the Netherlands published the results of a mouse-based study today in the European Heart Journal, which found evidence that a vaccine can encourage the body to attack a certain enzyme called PCSK9. That enzyme is associated with higher levels of LDL or “bad’ cholesterol.
In the study the mice received the vaccine, called AT04A, which was designed to induce antibodies that target PCSK9. The mice that received the vaccine were found to have lower cholesterol, fewer inflammation markers, and less atherosclerotic damage in the blood vessels, than the control group during the 18-week study period.
While the study only focused on mice, researchers are now starting a phase I trial to see if the vaccine is safe and effective in humans as well.
Günther Staffler, PhD, CTO at AFFiRiS — the company that developed AT04A — and one of the authors of the study, said in a statement released today, that the levels of cholesterol were reduced in mice in a “consistent and long-lasting way.”
“The reduction in total cholesterol levels was significantly correlated with induced antibody concentration, proving that induced antibodies caused the reduction in cholesterol and also are ultimately responsible for the reduction of atherosclerosis development,” Staffler said in the statement.
Additionally, the researchers found evidence that the antibodies didn’t disappear quickly after the vaccine was given, with the levels of PCSK9 depressed…