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Category: Heart Health and Cholesterol
Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center may have located a protein that regulates "bad" cholesterol in the blood, according to a study appearing in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.
The protein, called PCSK9, disrupts the activity and eventually destroys the receptor molecule in the blood that removes LDL cholesterol from the bloodstream.
"You want as many of these receptors as possible to clear the LDL from your blood," said Dr Jay Horton, one of the co-authors of the study.
Too much LDL cholesterol in the blood is a major risk factor for heart disease, heart attack and stroke. If there are fewer receptors, then more cholesterol stays in the blood, changing your lipid profile and increasing cardiovascular risk.
The researchers found that people with gene mutations that prevented them from producing normal levels of PCSK9 had LDL cholesterol levels 28 percent lower than those who had the normal version of the gene.
The researchers hope that the protein proves an attractive target for future drug development to combat heart disease, currently the leading cause of death in the U.S.
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