Vaccine to stop heart attacks could be here in 5 years
Scientists have discovered that the drug stimulates the body's immune system to produce antibodies which prevent heart disease by stopping fat building up in the arteries.
It is the first time that the underlying cause of heart disease has been targeted. Current treatments focus on using drugs to reduce cholesterol levels and blood pressure.
The vaccine can cut the build up of fat in arteries by up to 70 per cent, according to tests by researchers at Lund University in Sweden. The fatty deposits cause arteries to narrow, meaning the body has to work harder to pump blood, and can lead to a heart attack.
Prof Peter Weissberg, the British Heart Foundation medical director, said the vaccine was "very promising".
Different ways of administering the vaccine are being developed and could be licensed within five years, the Frontiers in CardioVascular Biology conference at Imperial College London was told.
Cardiovascular disease is the biggest killer in Britain, causing one in three deaths; 191,000 each year. There are 2.7?million people with heart disease and their treatment costs pounds 3.2?billion a year.
Prof Jan Nilsson, professor of experimental cardiovascular research at Lund University, acknowledged that treatments such as statins and blood pressure drugs reduced the risk of heart disease by 40 per cent, but added: "It should not be forgotten that 60 per cent of cardiovascular events continue to occur."
He said: "These treatments are far more like drugs: to be effective they'd need to be given long term. The antibody therapy in particularly is likely to be expensive, so you could probably only afford to give it to high-risk populations rather than everyone."
The team created a vaccine that reduced plaque build-up by 60 to 70 per cent in mice. The resulting injection is waiting regulatory clearance to start clinical trials. A second vaccine has been created as a nasal spray. A trial on 144 heart disease sufferers is under way in the U.S. and Canada.
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