In 2020 heart disease killed twice as many people as COVID-19 in the United States.1 Some may find this surprising due to the lack of news coverage on heart disease. Historically heart disease has always been one of America’s most serious epidemics. It has been a leading cause of death since the turn of the 20th Century. Following World War II, the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute began a long-term study known as the Framingham study to identify the cause of heart disease.
The Framingham study is an enormous observational study in Framingham, Massachusetts. Researchers conducted physical examinations on participants every two years to study contributing factors to heart disease and are now on their 3rd generation of participants. The Framingham study identified many currently known risk factors, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Researchers began developing medications to combat cholesterol levels once high cholesterol was identified as a significant risk factor.
Some of our most exciting research at ENCORE Research Group is for new cholesterol-lowering medications such as Antisense Oligonucleotides (ASOs), Small Interfering RNA (siRNAs), and Adnectins.
Antisense oligonucleotides (ASOs) are short, synthetic single-stranded fragments of RNA that can reduce, restore, or modify protein expression. ASOs have been designed specifically to target high levels of LDL (bad cholesterol) in the bloodstream in a different way than current medications. They are also being studied to reduce lipoprotein a [Lp (a) or “Lp little a”] in patients with elevated levels by targeting a building block of the Lp(a).
Small interfering RNA (siRNAs) are another type of RNA therapy that is being used in clinical trials to reduce the risks of cardiovascular disease. Unlike ASOs which are single-stranded oligodeoxynucleotides, siRNAs are double-stranded RNA molecules. SiRNAs are used in the silencing of disease-causing genes for the treatment of atherosclerotic cardiovascular diseases.
Adnectins are a class of drugs used to target proteins. Adnectins can be rapidly developed to bind proteins or other necessary targets. Currently, adnectins are being used in clinical trials to bind with a human protein called PCSK9. This binding blocks the interactions between PCSK9 and LDL (bad cholesterol) receptors. As a result, the levels of LDL cholesterol in the body are lowered.
We are optimistic about these new technologies; they may give us the arsenal to fight back against heart disease.
If you have high cholesterol levels that are not being adequately managed by your current medications, we may be able to help you get involved in a research study that may help get you back on track! As many of our readers know, most research studies offer access to cutting-edge therapies at no cost to patients. Call us to find out how you can get involved today!