Cholesterol Drug by Amgen Cuts LDL by 60%
A new class of experimental drugs have been proven to dramatically lower cholesterol, and may become a viable option for the 70 million Americans who have high LDL (low-density lipoprotein) or “bad” cholesterol. One of these new medicines, Amgen’s Evolocumab, cut cholesterol by 55 to 66 percent compared to a placebo in some studies.
The new cholesterol drugs might serve as a replacement for patients who can’t tolerate or don’t see enough benefits from existing drugs like Lipitor, as well as other statin drugs that have been around for decades. The initial comprehensive studies were presented at an American College of Cardiology conference in Washington on Saturday.
Cholesterol is an organic lipid molecule and an essential structural component of animal cell membranes, which is required to create proper membrane permeability and fluidity. Animal fats are complex mixtures of triglycerides, phospholipids and cholesterol. As a result of this, all foods containing animal fat contain cholesterol to varying degrees. Foods high in cholesterol include egg yolks, beef, cheese, pork, poultry, fish, and shrimp. Breast milk and alcohol also contain high amounts of cholesterol.
Elevated amounts of LDL or “bad” cholesterol can cause cardiovascular disease. LDL molecules can transport their content of fat molecules into arterial walls, which in turn can lead to heart disease. Traditional drug therapies include the use of statins, which reduce high levels of LDL particles by inhibiting the enzyme HMG-CoA reductase in cells, niacin, which reduces triglyceride synthesis, and Clofibrate, which has been associated with significantly increased risk of cancer and stroke, regardless of lowered cholesterol levels.
Notwithstanding, the best approach to lowering cholesterol has been dietary. The reduction of abdominal fat, as well minimizing total body fat lowers LDL. As plants contain very low amounts of cholesterol, vegetarian diets have been shown to reduce LDL levels.
In related news, it’s been reported that certain cholesterol medications might help men suffering with erectile dysfunction.
Image via Wikimedia Commons