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New Type of Cholesterol-Lowering Drug Shows Promise

Experimental agent works differently than statin medications, researchers say

TUESDAY, Dec. 18 (HealthDay News) -- A new kind of drug designed to lower levels of "bad" low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and reduce heart disease risk has proved safe and effective in a phase II clinical trial, researchers report.

Elevated LDL levels increase the risk of heart attack and stroke.

The small study of 24 moderately overweight people with high LDL levels found that the drug (KB2115) helped reduced LDL levels by as much as 40 percent. The findings confirm earlier tests in animals. The drug was well tolerated, and there were no detectable effects on the heart.

All the American and Swedish researchers involved in the study have a proprietary interest in Swedish pharmaceutical company Karo Bio AB, which developed KB2115. The research was conducted at the Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, and the University of California, San Francisco.

The drug is designed to mimic the action of thyroid hormone and accelerates the hormone's natural ability to rid the body of LDL. Since it is unrelated in structure or action to widely-used cholesterol lowering statin drugs (such as Lipitor, Pravachol and Zocor), KB2115 may offer an alternative for patients who can't tolerate statins, according to the study authors. It may also be possible to use KB2115 to further decrease cholesterol levels in patients taking statins.

The results were published online this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

More information

The American Heart Association has more about cholesterol.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: University of California, San Francisco, news release, Dec. 17, 2007

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