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New Cholesterol-Lowering Drug Shows Early Promise

If proven safe, effective in larger studies, ALN-PCS might someday be used with or instead of statins, researchers say
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WebMD News from HealthDay

By Steven Reinberg

HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Oct. 3 (HealthDay News) -- An experimental drug that lowers LDL "bad" cholesterol by helping sweep it from the bloodstream appears to be both safe and effective in its first human trial.

The drug known as ALN-PCS reduced cholesterol an average of 40 percent in the small, early study, and, if proven to work in large trials, potentially could replace or complement statins, the researchers said.

Currently, statin drugs such as Lipitor, Crestor and Zocor are widely used to control cholesterol. One heart doctor not involved with the new study said another class of drugs might be useful.

"Cardiovascular disease remains the leading cause of death of men and women globally and reduction of LDL cholesterol with statin medications has been demonstrated to substantially reduce the risk of first or recurrent cardiovascular events," said Dr. Gregg Fonarow, a professor of cardiology at the University of California, Los Angeles.

However, while statin therapy is very effective for heart risk reduction and generally well tolerated, a substantial number of people cannot achieve ideal LDL cholesterol levels despite high statin dosing, he said. And others can't take statins at all.

"As such there is an important need to develop addition therapies to lower LDL cholesterol," Fonarow said.

The new trial demonstrated dramatic reductions in LDL cholesterol on top of statin therapy, he said, and "these agents are being further evaluated in very large randomized controlled clinical outcome trials."

The report was published Oct. 3 in the online edition of The Lancet.

In this early, phase I trial, researchers tried the drug on 32 healthy patients with mild to moderate raised low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. Patients were randomly assigned to one of six doses of ALN-PCS or an inactive placebo.

The drug, which is given intravenously, significantly reduced cholesterol. Those given the highest dose saw an average 40 percent reduction in LDL cholesterol, the researchers found.

ALN-PCS was well tolerated, and a similar number of patients in both groups had mild to moderate side effects (79 percent compared to 88 percent), such as a temporary rash. In addition, the drug didn't cause any significant changes in liver function or inflammation, the researchers said.

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Your total cholesterol level is Borderline High, but fortunately your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is near optimal. This could mean you have a high level of high-density lipoprotein, or "good" HDL cholesterol, which protects against heart disease. Or you could have other non-measured increases in LDL-like particles that can increase heart disease. Your LDL level also could be optimal if you are taking a statin medication. Please check with your doctor to get your complete lipid profile and see if you may need additional treatment. In the meantime, find more information on WebMD's Cholesterol Health Center.

Your total cholesterol level is Borderline High. Your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is Borderline High, too. Working to bring down your total cholesterol decreases your LDL cholesterol level. You can do this by exercising more and eating less food with saturated fats. Check food labels!

Your total cholesterol level is Borderline High. Your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is High. Working to bring down your total cholesterol decreases your LDL cholesterol level. You can do this by exercising more and eating less food with saturated fats. Check food labels!

Your total cholesterol level is Borderline High. But your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is Very High. Working to bring down your total cholesterol decreases your LDL cholesterol level. You can do this by exercising more and eating less food with saturated fats. Check food labels!

Your total cholesterol is High, but your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is optimal. This could mean you have a high level of high-density lipoprotein, or "good" HDL cholesterol, which protects against heart disease. Or you could have elevated secondary lipids, such as non-HDL particles that increase the risk of heart disease. Your LDL level also could be optimal if you are taking a statin medication. Please check with your doctor to get your complete lipid profile and see if you may need additional treatment. In the meantime, find more information on WebMD's Cholesterol Health Center.

Your total cholesterol is High, but your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is near optimal. This could mean you have a high level of high-density lipoprotein, or "good" HDL cholesterol, which protects against heart disease. Or you could have elevated secondary lipids, such as non-HDL particles that increase the risk of heart disease. Your LDL level also could be optimal if you are taking a statin medication. Please check with your doctor to get your complete lipid profile and see if you may need additional treatment. In the meantime, find more information on WebMD's Cholesterol Health Center.

Your total cholesterol level is High. Your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is Borderline High. Working to bring down your total cholesterol decreases your LDL cholesterol level. You can do this by exercising more and eating less food with saturated fats. Check food labels!

Your total cholesterol level is High. Your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is High, too. Working to bring down your total cholesterol decreases your LDL cholesterol level. You can do this by exercising more and eating less food with saturated fats. Check food labels! If you are struggling to bring down your total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels, your doctor may prescribe medication, such as statins. Following medication, dietary, and exercise instructions should result in improvements.

Your total cholesterol level is High, and your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is Very High. Working to bring down your total cholesterol decreases your LDL cholesterol level. You can do this by exercising more and eating less food with saturated fats. Check food labels! If you are struggling to bring down your total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels, your doctor may prescribe statins or other cholesterol-lowering medications.

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