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article imageTests Underway on Pill to Prevent Heart Disease

By Chris Dade     Aug 31, 2009 in Health
European heart specialists attending a five-day congress in Barcelona have been hearing about tests that are under way on a compound known as Ateronon, which has the potential to mimic the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet.
Over 25,000 heart specialists are attending the European Society of Cardiology congress in Spain's second largest city and they have heard how Ateronon, which the Daily Mail is reporting, when taken in capsule form, is equivalent to eating three kilograms (6.6 pounds) of tomatoes, is already being tested by doctors at Cambridge University in England and Harvard Medical School in the U.S.
The comparison to eating an unusually large portion of tomatoes is appropriate because the skin of a tomato contains a pigment and phytochemical called lycopene, as do other red fruits and vegetables, and it is lycopene which has the antioxidant properties that can help prevent heart disease and strokes by breaking down the fat deposited in the arteries.
Whilst nothing conclusive appears to have come out of the research conducted to date it is hoped that if testing progresses as expected there will come a time when one capsule of Ateronon, taken daily, will be sufficient to keep heart disease, said, for example, to be the U.K.'s biggest killer, at bay.
Developed by scientists from Cambridge University who are employed by the biotechnology company Cambridge Theranostics Limited (CTL), Ateronon apparently overcomes the difficulty normally associated with lycopene, that of converting its crystals into small enough molecules for humans to absorb.
According to the Telegraph that problem has now been solved by combining lycopene with a lactose-based milk protein, referred to by the Daily Mail as whey, which does have the effect of reducing the size of the former's molecules.
To date no side-effects have been detected in the 150 people, all suffering from heart disease, who have taken part in the early testing of the compound by CTL. The tests to be conducted at the Brigham and Women's Hospital, a part of Harvard University, will involve 200 people.
Scientists in Finland, Sweden and Italy are also planning to test for the effects and, hopefully, the benefits of Ateronon. Those tests will include elements designed to establish what, if any, are the differing effects of the compound on different ethnic groups.
The tests in Italy will apparently be conducted on as many as 10,000 people whilst any testing approved for Finland may be particularly significant because the Northern European country suffers from the highest rate of heart disease in the world.
A great deal of faith seems to be invested in the research being carried out on Ateronon, especially with little positive news having come out of trials involving other vitamins and dietary supplements which it was previously hoped might reduce instances of heart disease or prevent it completely.
Meanwhile adopting a diet similar to that enjoyed by people in the Mediterranean, who regularly eat, among other things, fish, nuts and olive oil, can prove beneficial, Ateronon or no Ateronon.
Dr Gunter Schmidt, the chief executive of CTL, appears in little doubt as to what the tests on Ateronon will prove, saying:We are confident that Ateronon will show quite dramatic benefits in patients with heart and circulatory disorders, and provide a useful adjunct to statins
It will be a very happy day indeed if his confidence proves to be well-founded.
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