New oral drug may become alternative to statins to lower cholesterol

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Almost 40%Trusted Source of adults in the United States have high cholesterol, which increases the risk of several health conditions, including heart disease and stroke.
Statins Trusted Sourceare the most common treatment for high cholesterol, followed by PCSK-9 inhibitorsTrusted Source. PCSK-9 is an enzyme that marks low-density lipoprotein (LDL) receptors for degradation.
LDL receptors sit at the liver cells’ surface to remove cholesterol from the blood. PCSK-9 inhibitors thus reduce cholesterol levels by maintaining higher levels of LDL receptors that remove cholesterol from the blood.
Currently, PCSK-9 inhibitors are limited in use as they must be administered as shots. Further research into them could expand their use as an alternative to statins.
Recently, researchers conducted preliminary research on a nitric oxide-derived molecule’s ability to lower cholesterol by inhibiting PCSK-9 enzymes in cell and mouse models.
Their experimental treatment reduced PCSK9 levels and lowered LDL cholesterol in mice by 70%.
“This is of exceptional interest because until now, we have only seen benefits from nitric oxide-based therapies on blood vessel health,” Dr. Rigved Tadwalkar, a board certified cardiologist at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California, who was not involved in the study, told Medical News Today.
“Since some people either have or perceive to have side effects from statin medications, this could be an alternative, although we would first need to see how the drug would fare against other established therapies when it comes to longer-term clinical outcomes.”
— Dr. Rigved Tadwalkar
The study was published in Cell ReportsTrusted Source.