Just imagine the possibilities if a single injection could permanently lower levels of cholesterol and triglycerides for an individual’s entire life. In the first gene-editing experiment of this sort, researchers have managed to disable two individual genes in monkeys that are known to increase the risk of heart disease. Humans carry the same gene, so this experiment has brought some hopes that this leading killer could be stopped sometime in the future.
Dr Michael Davidson, the director of the Lipid Clinic at the University of Chicago Prtizker School of Medicine, who was not involved in this new study, explained that the research performed could eventually lead to a cure for heart disease.
Of course, we will have to wait years before human trials can actually begin. So far, gene-editing technologies have not gone completely stellar, so it is much too early to say if this strategy that works in monkeys will be effective and safe in human patients. For now, even the monkeys have to be monitored for the appearance of some possible side effects or some treatment failures related to the injection for many years.
The results of this groundbreaking study were presented on Saturday at the annual meeting of the International Society for Stem Cell Research. This year, the event was held online and there were approximately 3,700 attendees all around the globe. Researchers are currently writing their findings, which, for now, have not been officially published or peer-reviewed.
In the study, the scientists decided to block two genes: ANGPTL3, which regulates triglyceride, a type of blood fat, and PCSK9, which regulates the levels of LDL cholesterol. Both of these genes are normally active in the liver, where both triglycerides and cholesterol are produced. It would seem that people that inherit the mutations which lead to the disappearance of the gene are not susceptible to heart disease.
Doris’s passion for writing started to take shape in college where she was editor-in-chief of the college newspaper. Even though she ended up working in IT for more than 7 years, she’s now back to what he always enjoyed doing. With a true passion for technology, Doris mostly covers tech-related topics.