Two major studies by leading research groups published on Wednesday independently identified mutations in a single gene that protect against heart attacks by keeping levels of triglycerides — a kind of fat in the blood — very low for a lifetime.
The findings are expected to lead to a push to develop drugs that mimic the effect of the mutations, potentially offering the first new class of drugs to combat heart disease in decades, experts say. Statins, which reduce LDL cholesterol, another cause of heart disease, became blockbusters in the late 1980s. Since then, there have been no major new drugs approved for lowering heart disease risk. But experts caution that drug development takes years and that there are no guarantees that new treatments will work as hoped.
Heart attacks are the leading killer in the United States, and about 720,000 Americans a year have them. Although statins are effective in reducing heart attack risk, many users still have high levels of triglycerides and go on to have heart attacks. So the results of the new studies are good news, said Dr. Daniel J. Rader, the director of the Preventive Cardiovascular Medicine and Lipid Clinic at the University of Pennsylvania, who was not involved in the research.
Read the full, original story: In Single Gene, a Path to Fight Heart Attacks