“Liquid Drano® for the arteries”
In this MSNBC story, there’s a promising report of a very preliminary study of a drug that shrinks cholesterol plaques:
In the study, 36 patients who had had heart attacks or severe chest pain received weekly intravenous infusions of the substance for five weeks. Eleven patients received dummy treatments.
At six weeks, imaging tests showed the patients receiving the synthetic protein had a visible 4 percent reduction in plaque buildup in their coronary arteries. There was no significant change in the placebo group.
The study was funded by Esperion Therapeutics Inc. of Ann Arbor, Mich., a small biotechnology company that makes the product.
Espersions’ website says they have 4 different engineered molecules in testing, so it’s not clear which one worked in this study.
A 4% reduction in a plaque may not seem like much, but that’s a big change over 5 weeks. It’ll be interesting to see whether a longer-term treatment changes the rate of plaque reduction.
Also, the unintended consequences will need evaluation, as well. The cholesterol is transported to the liver ‘for elimination’, which is normally how it’s done. However, rapidly sending this much cholesterol to the liver could have interesting side-effects, like an increase in gallstone formation, for one thing.
But, this is an interesting breakthrough. Let’s hope it pans out.