A vaccine to prevent heart attacks could be available within five years, deliverable as an injection or a nasal spray.
Coronary heart disease is the term that describes what happens when the blood supply to your heart is blocked or interrupted by a build-up of fatty substances in the coronary arteries. If a coronary artery becomes completely blocked, it can cause a heart attack.
Now, for the first time, scientists have found a way to target these underlying causes of heart disease rather than simply reducing risk factors like high levels of bad cholesterol and blood pressure.
Researchers from Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute in Los Angeles have discovered that a particular drug stimulates the body’s immune system to produce antibodies, which prevent heart disease by stopping fat building up in the arteries.
The team have formulated a vaccine using this drug that reduced plaque build-up by 60 and 70 per cent in mice.
This vaccine is deliverable as an injection or as a nasal spray. Now, researchers are waiting for regulatory clearance to start testing the vaccine in human clinical trials.
Presenting their findings at the Cardiovascular Biology meeting at Imperial College London, the scientists say that the treatment is like a drug, to be prescribed long-term.
Coronary heart disease (CHD) is the UK’s biggest killer, causing around 94,000 deaths in the UK each year. Lack of exercise, poor diet, smoking and alcohol are the main causes of heart disease, but it is also known that there are strong hereditary factors too.
Professor Peter Weissberg, the British Heart Foundation medical director, said the vaccine was "very promising".
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