Washington: Scientists have recently developed a synthetic molecule that mimics "good" cholesterol in order to help fight against heart disease and stroke.
Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have shown that the molecule can reduce plaque buildup in the arteries of animal models. The molecule, taken orally, improved cholesterol in just two weeks.
The research points scientists toward a new method for treating atherosclerosis, a condition where plaque buildup in the arteries could cause heart attacks and strokes.
To combat atherosclerosis, researchers are looking for new ways to target and remove low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (commonly known as "bad" cholesterol) from the body. Though the body needs some LDL to stay healthy, high levels lead to dangerous plaque buildups. In contrast, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol ("good" cholesterol) has been known for its protective effects.
Many cholesterol treatments currently in development rely on an injection, not a pill. With the option of an orally effective peptide, TSRI Professor M. Reza Ghadiri believes researchers are closer to developing an accessible new therapy for atherosclerosis.
The study also reported no signs of increased inflammation in the blood or toxicity after 10 weeks of the peptide treatment.
Researchers are now investigating exactly how the synthetic peptide works in the intestines and the possibility that it interacts with beneficial microbes. The researchers believe that finding new targets in the gastrointestinal tract could lead to new therapies for many more diseases.
This research is published in the Journal of Lipid Research.