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New drugs could help those with high cholesterol by mimicking natural functions


Research on cholesterol production pathways, undertaken at the University of Edinburgh, has the potential to aid treatment of elevated cholesterol levels by identifying new drug targets. 

The findings could help find alternatives to satins, which are currently the most commonly prescribed treatment for high levels of harmful cholesterol. However, despite their frequent usage serious side effects can result from taking statins such as liver and muscle wastage.

Individuals with elevated cholesterol levels are at risk of developing heart disease, yet despite this, cholesterol plays an important role within the body, regulating levels in the blood without jeopardizing other processes. Statins act in the liver where they stop the cholesterol production pathway. Completely halting the pathway prevents the production of down stream products that play crucial roles in the production of cell membranes, hormones and vitamin D. The new discovery by the Edinburgh team is the body’s natural ability to suppress cholesterol production by slowing stages in the pathway, a mechanism used by the immune system to fight viral infections.

Dr Steven Watterson, one of the researchers, said, 'Controlling cholesterol is vital for our health and drugs play a part in this. Developing treatments that mimic the body’s natural methods of managing cholesterol could be more targeted and have fewer side effects compared with conventional treatments.' The potential for the treatment of such a common condition as high cholesterol with more precise methods and less side effects is something that no doubt will have many following the research closely.

The research was published in Biochimie


Freya Svedberg


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