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December 11, 2019 BlogCholesterol

 

Cholesterol has earned a bad reputation over the years. However, it is required by every part of your body for day to day functions. In fact, cholesterol is so important to daily function, that every cell in the body can make cholesterol from basic materials, except your eyelashes! So how do you reconcile these two completely different ideas? The cholesterol that circulates in your blood stream is the extra stuff that your body is trying to get rid of. This extra cholesterol is what can cause damage to arteries, heart disease, and increase your risk for stroke.

So, what is cholesterol? It is a type of waxy, fat-like substance, also called a lipid.  Since cholesterol is a fat, it can’t travel alone in the bloodstream. It would end up as useless globs (imagine bacon fat floating in a pot of water). To get around this problem, the body packages cholesterol and other lipids into minuscule protein-covered particles that mix easily with blood. These tiny particles, called lipoproteins (lipid plus protein), move cholesterol and other fats throughout the body.1

LDL (low-density lipoprotein) is considered the “bad”, unhealthy cholesterol that can build up in the arteries and form deposits called plaques.

HDL (high-density lipoprotein) is the “good”, healthy kind of cholesterol that transports excess LDL cholesterol to the liver to be removed from the body.

PCSK9 is a protein in our body that regulates the circulating levels of LDL “bad” cholesterol.  Decreasing the PCSK9 proteins in the body will reduce LDL levels and reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke.

There are currently two FDA approved medications that have been very successful in blocking the PCSK9 protein once it has been made.  They are Repatha and Praluent.  However, the medications are expensive and not approved for all patients under their insurance.

Scientists believe it would be even more powerful to prevent the PCSK9 protein from being made in the first place. Currently being studied are a new class of molecules called antisense oligonucleotides (ASO).  ASOs are pieces of DNA that short-circuit the production of PCSK9, resulting in reduced LDL levels and associated risks.

When you participate in a clinical research study, you gain access to these types of cutting-edge therapies at no cost and before the general population. Contact us to schedule a free consultation to see if you qualify for one of our clinical research studies. If you qualify for one of our clinical trials, your health will be closely monitored by our team of expert medical professionals throughout the trial.

 

Reference:

  1. https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/how-its-made-cholesterol-production-in-your-body

 


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November 1, 2017 BlogCholesterol

Heart disease currently accounts for 1 in 4 deaths in the United States.[1] However due to new research breakthroughs there are now treatments available that may finally give us the means to fight back against 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 the town of 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 of the currently known risk factors such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol.  Once high cholesterol was identified as a major risk factor, researchers began developing medications to combat cholesterol levels.  Some of our most exciting research at Encore Research Group is for these new cholesterol lowering medications such as PCSK9 inhibitors.

PCSK9 inhibitors are an amazing class of drugs that allow us to lower LDL or “bad cholesterol” to previously unachievable levels.  These drugs are usually injectable and have many advantages over traditional statin drugs.  One such advantage is we are not seeing the muscle cramping associated with statin therapy. This is truly a breakthrough.

How low is too low? It is a question that researchers are actively addressing.  So far we have not seen complications or health risks as a result of very low LDL.  Some large studies that Encore Research has participated in will be releasing their results within the next year to more definitively answer this question. For now, there are many patients that have cholesterol levels that are difficult to budge but may respond to these new therapies.

Currently we are studying the effects of PCSK9 drugs in high risk populations such as diabetics. 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 medication at no cost to patients. Call us to find out how you can get involved today!

[1] CDC, NCHS. Underlying Cause of Death 1999-2013 on CDC WONDER Online Database, released 2015. Data are from the Multiple Cause of Death Files, 1999-2013, as compiled from data provided by the 57 vital statistics jurisdictions through the Vital Statistics Cooperative Program. Accessed Feb. 3, 2015.


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