New drug to lower cholesterol could massively improve treatment

New drug to lower cholesterol could massively improve treatment

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Bempedoic acid to lower cholesterol?

A brand new drug to lower cholesterol may be available to patients in the near future. Published study results have already shown that this drug can be used safely and effectively, even when taken with commonly prescribed statins.

In their latest investigation, scientists at Imperial College London found that a new drug can safely and effectively lower cholesterol levels. The experts published the results of their study in the English-language journal "New England Journal of Medicine".

Statins sometimes have strong side effects

The LDL cholesterol level in the blood is closely related to heart diseases and strokes. Lowering this cholesterol level can be an important strategy for maintaining cardiovascular health. So-called statins are often prescribed as cholesterol-lowering drugs. These are relatively effective, but not without side effects. In many cases, the benefits of the drug outweigh possible side effects, but some patients are unable to take statins safely, so there is an urgent need for new cholesterol-lowering drugs.

What does bempedoic acid do?

Bempedoic acid has been in development for several years. Similar to the commonly prescribed statins, the drug blocks the production of a key enzyme that the body needs to build cholesterol. However, bempedoic acid targets a very different enzyme than statins. The new study shows the safety and efficacy of bempedoic acid administered in conjunction with statin therapy in over 2,000 patients. The results were promising and no other side effects were observed in the treatment group. The combination therapy was also found to significantly lower low-density cholesterol (LDL) levels compared to patients treated with statins only.

Long-term effects of bempedoic acid?

While this particular study evaluated the safety and efficacy of bempedoic acid in conjunction with statins, ongoing studies are ongoing to investigate the efficacy of the new drug when given alone. A second, recently published study of the likely long-term effects of bempedoic acid also gave promising results. In this study, genetic markers were monitored in more than half a million people to compare the potential effects of inhibiting the enzyme that is affected by bempedoic acid (ATP citrate). Then the scientists compared the effects with the effects of the enzyme, which statins traditionally inhibit. The results suggest that blocking ATP citrate over a long period of time should be as safe and effective as taking statins. Bempedoic acid also appears to prevent some of the negative muscle-related side effects that are often associated with statin use.

Benefits of bempedoic acid

One of the main advantages of bempedoic acid is said to be that it does not cause the muscle side effects reported by some statin users, as it is absorbed by the liver and converted to its active form by an enzyme. After converting to the active form, the drug cannot leave the liver, so it cannot penetrate the muscles and could therefore be of considerable benefit to some patients. "One of the key benefits is that it doesn't cause the muscular side effects reported by some statin users," study author Kausik Ray of Imperial College London said in a press release.

When is the new drug expected to be on the market?

The new drug may be of benefit to patients who have already tried statins and have either found them to be ineffective or have significant side effects. At the present time, it is still unclear how far the bempedoic acid is from approval and clinical use. The experts plan to achieve approvals in Europe and the US later this year, but realistically it will probably take at least until 2020 before the new drug is available to patients around the world. (as)

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