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Category: Heart Health and Cholesterol
UCLA scientists have discovered a new mechanism that controls the way cells produce low-density lipoprotein (LDL), the so-called "bad" cholesterol linked to serious cardiovascular problems and stroke. Working with mice, the researchers identified an enzyme called Idol which destroys the receptor responsible for clearing LDL cholesterol from the bloodstream.
"We only know of three pathways that regulate the LDL receptor. The first two are already targeted by existing drugs," said principal investigator Dr Peter Tontonoz, a professor of pathology and laboratory medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator. "Idol is the first mechanism discovered in several years that may lead to a new medication designed to control cholesterol levels."
Statin drugs, the most commonly prescribed approach for lowering LDL cholesterol, work by increasing the amount of the receptor. The UCLA team hopes that by inactivating Idol, they could prevent destruction of the receptor, thus attacking the problem from another angle. This would be especially helpful for people who do not tolerate the side effects of statins well.
The American Heart Association considers an LDL level of 160 mg/dL as too high. Cholesterol can be assessed with a simple blood test.
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