Researchers at the Lund University in Sweden say they have achieved a major breakthrough in the prevention of heart attacks. They say they have developed a vaccine that can prevent heart attacks by drastically reducing fat in the arteries.
According to the scientists, the new vaccine can be applied either by injection or by nasal spray. They say they expect it to be available in the next five years.
Current methods for preventing heart attacks involve use of drugs that prevent accumulation of fat in the arteries by lowering cholesterol and blood pressure. The new treatment, however, targets the cause of heart attacks directly by drastically reducing fat clogging the arteries. Fat deposits in the arteries narrow its lumen and prevent free flow of blood, forcing the blood to pump harder to sustain blood flow.
Daily Mail reports Professor Peter Weissberg of the British Heart Foundation, said the new vaccine is "very promising." It works by stimulating the body's immune system to produce antibodies that attack the build up of fat in the arteries. According Times Live, the vaccine stimulates the body's immune system to produce antibodies that prevent build up of fat deposits in the arteries.
According to the researchers, a test on mice found that the vaccine can reduce plaque build-up in the arteries by as much as 60 to 70 percent. Daily Mail reports the injected vaccine is awaiting clearance for start of clinical trials. The Frontiers in Cardiovascular Biology conference at Imperial College, London, was told that different ways of administering the vaccine are being developed, and that the nasal spray could be introduced within five years.
The Telegraph reports Professor Jan Nilsson, expert in cardiovascular research, at the Lund University, told the conference that earlier experiments had shown it is possible to change the way the immune system responds to plaque build-up in the arteries, reduce inflammation and suppress plaque formation.
Nilsson, in collaboration with Prof Prediman Shah of the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute in Los Angeles, developed the CVX-210 vaccine.
The Telegraph reports another method involving injecting antibodies targeting bad low density lipoprotein carrying plaque forming cholesterol in the blood is also in trials. According to Nilsson: “The rationale is that since oxidized LDL plays a major role in the development of atherosclerotic plaques and harmful inflammatory processes, directly targeting oxidized LDL should prevent plaque formation and reduce inflammation."
Previous studies had shown that an antibody called BI-204, developed by BioInvent and Genentech, reduced plaques by half and is well tolerated in healthy people. The nasal spray form of the vaccine is under trial in the U.S. The trial involves 144 heart disease sufferers.
Times Live reports Nilsson said that statins and blood pressure drugs reduce the risk of heart disease only by 40%. He said: "It should not be forgotten that 60% of cardiovascular events continue to occur. These treatments are far more like drugs: to be effective they'd need to be given long term."
Nilsson said it is unlikely that the new vaccine would be administered in childhood as vaccines usually are. He said: "The antibody therapy in particular is likely to be expensive, so you could probably only afford to give it to high-risk populations rather than everyone."
The Telegraph reports Nilsson told the conference: “People at high risk of heart attacks are likely to be the first candidates for immune approaches. Such treatments, since they’ve totally different modes of action, could be used in addition to the current therapies."