Statins, which reduce low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C), are the standard of care for patients with raised cholesterol. However, they can cause side effects and are not always effective.
US researchers report on a vaccine that targets PCSK9, a protein that mediates the degradation of circulating LDL-C. People who lack functioning PCSK9 have reduced LDL-C levels and a much lower rate of cardiovascular disease.
Mice and macaques who received the vaccine developed antibodies against PCSK9 and had reduced circulating levels of the protein. Vaccination was associated with significant reductions in cholesterol, phospholipids and triglycerides and, in macaques, was shown to act synergistically with statin treatment to reduce LDL-C.
The researchers, writing in Vaccine
(2015;33:5747–5755), say that although there are monoclonal antibody therapies that target PCSK9, a vaccine approach could be more cost effective and practical.