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Shot Might One Day Help Lower Cholesterol
Date:11/14/2011

By Denise Mann
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Nov. 14 (HealthDay News) -- Preliminary research suggests that a single injection of a man-made protein might lower levels of "bad" cholesterol.

Given in the abdomen, AMG145 reduced low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels among a group of healthy volunteers. The shot turned off a newly identified cholesterol regulator, PCSK9, which interferes with the liver's ability to clear bad cholesterol from the bloodstream.

The findings were presented Monday at the American Heart Association (AHA) annual meeting in Orlando, Fla. The study was funded by AMG145 manufacturer Amgen Inc.

High cholesterol is a major risk factor for heart disease. The first step toward lowering cholesterol is typically lifestyle changes, which include eating a low-fat diet and regular physical activity. For some, medications such as statins must be added to get cholesterol levels where they ought to be. Even this is not enough to get everyone's numbers into the safety zone, and not everyone can tolerate currently available medications. An LDL of less than 100 mg/dL of blood is considered optimal.

Study author Clapton Dias, medical sciences director of clinical pharmacology and early development at Amgen, in Thousand Oaks, Calif., said this shot could be given as an add-on to current cholesterol-lowering therapies for people who are not getting as low as they should be or as a standalone treatment for people who can't tolerate existing lipid-lowering drugs.

"Cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death in the U.S., and while statins are very effective, a good proportion of people are not meeting their goals, and in this setting the shot could be a valuable addition," he said.

The study included 54 men and two women aged 18 to 45 who did not have elevated cholesterol levels. Participants received one of five doses of the new drug delivered via shot or intravenously
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