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Cholesterol: New drug could revolutionise treatment

A revolutionary new treatment was used for the first time in the world at the Division of Cardiology of Vienna General Hospital and MedUni Vienna outside of a clinical trial. High cholesterol levels are one of the most frequent causes of heart attacks and strokes. With just two injections a year, the new drug can reduce the levels of LDL cholesterol by half. The therapeutic effect is therefore comparable with that of taking a drug on a daily basis. If used together with the standard treatments, the new drug can lower LDL cholesterol levels by more than 80%.

In order to reduce the risk of a heart attack, significant lowering of blood cholesterol levels is important in patients with inherent metabolic disorders and associated high cholesterol levels, as well as in patients with atherosclerotic vascular disease. The innovative active agent in the new cholesterol-lowering drug inclisiran promises to be highly effective in treating these diseases.

“The new and revolutionary therapeutic approach gives us and our patients the opportunity to reduce their LDL cholesterol by half with only two injections a year. This treatment can be used in addition to the standard treatment, with statins for example, and is now being used routinely for the first time,” says Walter Speidl from the Division of Cardiology of MedUni Vienna and Vienna General Hospital, which treats cardiology patients with lipid metabolism disorders.

The new active agent uses the RNA interference mechanism that won the Nobel Prize in 2006. This inhibits formation in the liver cells of the PCSK9 protein, which is involved in lipid metabolism and increases the level of “bad” LDL cholesterol in the blood.

“The new drug enables the liver cells to absorb and process significantly more LDL cholesterol so that less LDL cholesterol finds its way into the bloodstream, thereby preventing further dangerous deposits on the vessel wall,” say Klaus Distelmaier and Konstantin Krychtiuk, explaining the innovative treatment. Studies have shown the drug to be well tolerated. Since the treatment only requires two injections a year, it is expected that they will be a high level of acceptance and treatment adherence among patients.

On Friday, 29 January 2021, the drug was used for the first time in the world outside a clinical trial when it was administered to two patients at the Division of Cardiology. Approval of the drug inclisiran represents an important addition to the options available for effective lipid reduction.

“We believe this new drug has the potential to become one of the most widely prescribed drugs in the world and will revolutionise lipid management going forward,” says Christian Hengstenberg, Head of the Department of Medicine II and the Division of Cardiology of Vienna General Hospital and MedUni Vienna, who is extremely optimistic about this development.

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