A VACCINE to prevent a key cause of heart attacks could be available to patients within five years.
The drug, delivered either by injection or nasal spray, stimulates the immune system to produce antibodies which stop fat building up on the walls of arteries – a major cause of heart disease.
Researchers at Lund University in Sweden found that the vaccine could reduce the build-up of fat in arteries by up to 70 per cent.
The research was unveiled at the CardioVascular Biology Conference at Imperial College in London, where delegates were told different ways of administering the vaccine were being developed.
Professor Jan Nilsson, the professor of experimental cardiovascular research at Lund, said existing treatment such as statins, which help lower cholestrol – and blood pressure reducing drugs, successfully cut heart attacks by up to 40 per cent, but pointed to the fact that work needs done to prevent the remainder.
“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 particular is likely to be expensive, so you could probably only afford to give it to high-risk populations rather than everyone.”
The injection, which has proved successful on mice, is due to undergo clinical trials following regulatory clearance, while the nasal spray is to be tested on 144 heart disease sufferers in North America.