London: New drug that lowers levels of ‘bad cholesterol’ by up to two-thirds after 12 weeks could one day be used as an alternative treatment for patients who do not respond well to other treatments like statins, researchers have suggested.
The drug, called AMG 145, is currently only being tested in an injectable form but scientists hope to be able to make it available as a pill in the future, the Telegraph reported.
The jab works by helping the body use up ‘bad’ low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol at a faster rate than normal, clearing blood vessels of the substance. By contrast, statins work by slowing production of LDL.
A trial of 631 patients with high cholesterol who were already on statins found a fortnightly jab of a 145mg dose lowered their LDL levels by 66 per cent after 12 weeks, compared to those given a placebo. In absolute terms, LDL cholesterol fell by just over 2.0 mmol per litre.
“The observed reductions in LDL cholesterol are extraordinary, especially when one considers that they are seen on top of statin therapy,” the paper quoted Dr Robert Giugliano, from the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, as saying.
Results of the study, published in The Lancet, showed no serious side effects, although such problems often only come to light during larger trials or even when licensed.
“These data are very exciting and may offer a new paradigm for LDL cholesterol reduction. The next step will be a large-scale, long-term cardiovascular outcomes trial,” said Dr Marc Sabatine, senior study author.
If possible to turn AMG 145 into a pill, Professor Jeremy Pearson, associate medical director of the British Heart Foundation, said it then be used either in addition to statins or as an alternative to them.
But he said at this stage it was impossible to say if the side effect profile would be better or worse than statins.