GATESHEAD, England, June 1 /PRNewswire/ -- A leading GP has welcomed the launch of a potentially revolutionary heart disease treatment that offers people around the world the hope of combating the killer disease.
GP Dr Rob Hicks said the launch of Ateronon, the natural supplement developed by Cambridge scientists, was a huge breakthrough in the treatment of heart disease related illnesses that can cause heart attacks and stroke.
Dozens of research studies have shown that lycopene - found in the skins of ripe tomatoes - has the capacity to significantly reduce the build up of plaque in the arteries that can lead to heart attacks and stroke.
Lycopene is the potent antioxidant isolated for its health-promoting properties from the Mediterranean diet (http://www.ateronon.com/).
Until now, scientists have been unable to find a way of modifying lycopene molecules so they can be readily absorbed into the human body.
Researchers from Cambridge Theranostics Limited (CTL), a biotech spin-out
Dr Hicks said: "If you think that this can reduce the damage to the arteries, which is the damage that ends up causing heart attacks and strokes - this can potentially extend life but also saving lives on a global basis.
"The potential impact is enormous - we might see a fall in the number of people suffering heart attacks, strokes and other problems relating to arterial damage and the clogging up of the arteries. That has to be welcomed," he added.
Results from their early trials involving 150 people with heart disease were made public for the first time at the British Cardiovascular Society annual conference in London on Monday (1st June).
The Ateronon formulation combines lycopene with milk and soy-based proteins to produce a much smaller, and more bio-available molecule. The early studies have shown that Ateronon can inhibit the oxidation of low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, which can put people at risk of suffereing heart attacks and stroke, to almost zero within eight weeks.
An estimated 17.5 million people died from heart and circulatory diseases in 2005, representing 30% of all global deaths. Of these deaths, an estimated 7.6 million were due to coronary heart disease and 5.7 million were due to stroke.
More than 117,000 people die each year in the UK from coronary heart disease. It accounts for one in five deaths in men and one in six deaths in women.
The four million people who take statins to help lower their cholesterol and chances of suffering a heart attack or stroke could benefit from using Ateronon. The product can be taken alongside statins.
Although cholesterol does put people at risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke, half of all heart attacks and three quarters of all strokes occur in people who do not have raised cholesterol.
Large scale studies of Ateronon are being undertaken at Addenbrookes
Hospital, Cambridge, and at
The study was built on research originally carried out by the multi-national food giant Nestle, who were looking for a way to capture the therapeutic benefits of the tomato-derived compound lycopene.
After its launch to doctors this month, Ateronon will be made available direct to consumers through high street pharmacists from July onwards.
Dr Gunter Schmidt, a biologist and chief executive of CTL, said he was confident that once doctors had observed the benefits of Ateronon, they would instantly see the potential benefits.
He said: "We are extremely excited about Ateronon. We have 10 worldwide patents recognising its efficacy, but we want its capabilities to be taken very seriously by clinicians as well. We don't want it dismissed as just another food supplement."
 World Health Organization
 British Heart Foundation
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