Six in ten UK adults have raised cholesterol levels with 8 million having to take statins – an anti-cholesterol drug. Many people assume this is solely down to a diet containing too much fat however, genetics can also be to blame. Familial high cholesterol is a congenital condition where the gene responsible for the production of the protein that removes cholesterol from the bloodstream is mutated. This causes abnormally high levels of low-density lipoproteins, ‘LDL’s, and as such, those with the condition are much more likely to develop cardiovascular disease as early as by their 30th birthday. Furthermore, current treatment does little to reduce levels meaning patients have to live with this increased risk.
Promises to reduce LDL levels more effectively and safely than current offerings.
However, following the acquisition of The Medicines Company late last year, Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis has struck up a deal with the NHS to provide a pseudo-vaccine for high cholesterol called ‘inclisiran’. This injection promises to reduce LDL levels more effectively and safely than current offerings all while only requiring administration twice a year! In addition, the treatment is reported to work well for those with the familial genetic mutation who are otherwise challenging to treat. All being well, the NHS hopes to bring the drug to the UK as soon as 2021.
This is perhaps a timely reminder that we should be mindful of cholesterol levels, even if we consider ourselves to be healthy, young and fit since anyone can have this genetic mutation.
Image credit: ‘Cholesterol emboli’ by Boonyarit Cheunsuchon via Creative Commons
Image description: Cholesterol emboli are a consequence of high cholesterol and can cause blockage of blood vessels