A new drug can cut cholesterol to unprecedented levels and prevent heart attacks and strokes, scientists have found.
Patients who took injections of the new drug evolocumab saw their cholesterol fall even further than when they were just taking statins.
An international trial of 27,000 patients found that those who took the drug evolocumab saw their bad cholesterol levels fall by about 60% on average.
“This is one of the most important trials of cholesterol-lowering since the first statin trial, published 20 years ago. Our results suggest this new, extremely potent class of drug can cut cholesterol dramatically, which could provide great benefit for a lot of people at risk of heart disease and stroke,” said Prof Peter Sever, from Imperial College London.
A promising new approach is blocking the action of PCSK9, a molecule which reduces the breakdown of LDL-cholesterol in the liver. Creating new treatments which use this approach could prove life-saving for patients with high cholesterol and those who can’t tolerate statins.
Millions of people take drugs called statins to reduce the amount of bad cholesterol. While statins have a significant impact in reducing the risk of heart disease for millions of people, they are not tolerated by everyone and only reduce cholesterol by a certain amount.
The new drug, evolocumab, changes the way the liver works to also cut bad cholesterol. Evolocumab is an antibody just like the weapons used by the immune system to fight infection.
However, it has been designed to target a protein in the liver with the name PCSK9. And ultimately it makes the organ better at whipping bad cholesterol out of the blood and breaking it down.
The findings were published in the New England Journal of Medicine.