Therapeutic target to reduce ugly cholesterol `identified`

Washington: Researchers claim to have for the first time identified a novel therapeutic target to reduce triglycerides and increase "good" cholesterol levels.

A team at New York University has shown the inhibition of both microRNA-33a and microRNA-33b with chemically modified anti-miR oligonucleotides can markedly suppress triglycerides and cause a sustained increase in the high density lipoprotein cholesterol or "good" cholesterol.

"The discovery of microRNAs in the last decade has opened new insights for up new avenues for development of therapies targeted at these potent regulators of gene pathways," said Kathryn Moore, who led the team.

"The current study is the first to show that inhibition of miR-33a, as well as miR-33b which is only found in larger mammals can suppress plasma triglyceride levels and increase circulating levels of HDL-C.

"This study highlights the benefits of modulating miR-33 a/b and its downstream metabolic pathways for the treatment of conditions that increase cardiovascular disease risks, such as dyslipidemias and metabolic syndrome," she added.

Metabolic syndrome is a combination of medical disorders that increase the risk of developing cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Cholesterol is a growing public concern worldwide characterised by an increase in triglycerides, decrease in plasma HDL-C, obesity and resistance to insulin that can lead to both cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

Recent studies have indicated miR-33a/b regulate genes involved in cholesterol and fatty acid metabolism pathways.

"This study represents a significant advance from our proof-of-concept studies in mice showing that anti-miR-33 can both raise HDL and improve existing atherosclerotic vascular disease. These results bring the use of miR-33 inhibitors a step closer to clinic," said team member Katey Rayner.


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