Better cholesterol drugs may follow SLU researcher's breakthrough

Oct 05, 2010

Thanks to a discovery by a Saint Louis University researcher, scientists have identified an important microRNA that may allow us to better control cholesterol levels in blood.

Led by Angel Baldan, Ph.D., assistant professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at Saint Louis University and published in a recent issue of , the study found that the miR-33, may be key to controlling HDL, or "good" .

In the U.S., heart attack, stroke, and collectively account for more than 30 percent of all deaths in the last decade. Atherosclerosis, the fatty build-up in arteries that causes these illnesses, is tied to cholesterol levels, a waxy substance found in the blood.

Statins, drugs frequently prescribed by doctors to manage cholesterol levels, work by lowering LDL, or "bad" cholesterol levels; however, their role in HDL cholesterol is still obscure. Importantly, HDL has been found to have a protective benefit against cardiovascular disease.

"Atherosclerosis costs lives and takes an enormous toll on our health," said Baldan. "If the discovery that miR-33 can be used to raise HDL levels leads to better medications, it will have an enormous impact on our ability to treat heart disease."

The study, which was funded by the National Institutes of Health, Saint Louis University Center for Cardiovascular Research and the Doisy Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Saint Louis University, examined SREBP-2, an important gene in the body, and zeroed in on the microRNA miR-33, which is expressed within SREBP-2.

Increasing the levels of miR-33 in the liver, scientists discovered, resulted in lower HDL cholesterol levels in an animal model; conversely, turning off miR-33, researchers found, had the effect of raising HDL levels.

Paralleling these results, four separate studies reported similar findings, adding to investigators' hope that better medications may be on the horizon for managing atherosclerosis. Scientists hope that future medications may prove to be more effective than statins alone by not only lowering LDL-cholesterol levels, but also increasing HDL levels.

Explore further: Stroke damage mechanism identified

Provided by Saint Louis University

4 /5 (1 vote)

Related Stories

New pathway discovered in cellular cholesterol regulation

May 13, 2010

Researchers at two laboratories at NYU Langone Medical Center have collaborated to identify a tiny micro-RNA, miR-33, that regulates key genes involved in cellular cholesterol transport. The study, published online May 13, ...

Research explains link between cholesterol and heart disease

Sep 18, 2007

Cholesterol contributes to atherosclerosis – a condition that greatly increases the risk of heart attack and stroke – by suppressing the activity of a key protein that protects the heart and blood vessels, researchers ...

Recommended for you

Stroke damage mechanism identified

2 hours ago

Researchers have discovered a mechanism linked to the brain damage often suffered by stroke victims—and are now searching for drugs to block it.

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

junkd
not rated yet Nov 29, 2010
Reliable supplier, rapid delivery, guarantee!
http://star-of-he..._id=5831

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.