Vaccination technology has advanced to the point at which tiny fragments of a protein can be used to direct the adaptive immune system to attack very specific targets. In this case, the target is LDL cholesterol. Reducing the amount of LDL cholesterol in the bloodstream is a proven strategy to slow the onset and progression of atherosclerosis. In this condition, damaged lipids carried in the bloodstream irritate cells in the blood vessel wall, leading to a runaway process of inflammation and cell death that generates fatty plaques. These eventually lead to rupture or blockage of blood vessels that is severe enough to result in death. A global reduction in blood lipids – in cholesterol in the bloodstream – reduces the input of damaged lipids to this process.
In recent years the research community has broadened its efforts in this direction, moving beyond pharmaceuticals such as statins in order to find more efficient means of long-term reduction in blood lipids. Examples other than the vaccination approach noted here include PCSK9 gene therapies, or similar efforts that target other genes noted to significantly reduce cholesterol levels without side-effect in mammals. Diversity in research for any particular therapeutic goal is
Article originally posted at