HEART DISEASE: Gene editing could be the cure
July 16, 2020 • 1 min read
-- A gene-editing experiment permanently reduced LDL and triglyceride levels in monkeys
People with increased blood levels of triglycerides and LDL cholesterol have dramatically greater risks of heart disease, heart attacks, and strokes, the leading causes of death in the developed world.
Drug companies promote two different treatments that markedly lower LDL cholesterol, but they are expensive and must be injected every few weeks.
Researchers investigating alternative treatments believe our genes hold the cure.
They tested their thinking on monkeys, blocking two genes that regulate levels of LDL cholesterol and triglycerides.
The results were presented at the annual meeting of the International Society for Stem Cell Research, this year held virtually with about 3,700 attendees around the world.
Within two weeks of gene editing, the monkeys’ LDL levels dropped by 59% and triglyceride levels by 64%.
One danger of gene editing is the process may result in modification of DNA that scientists are not expecting.
If all goes well, researchers hope in a few years to begin treating people who have had heart attacks and still have perilously high cholesterol. For them, the risk of another heart attack is so high that the possible benefit may far outweigh the risks of the treatment.