Can the antioxidant drug cysteamine treat atherosclerosis?

Inhibition of the lysosomal oxidation of low density lipoprotein and its effect on atherosclerosis

David S Leake (lead researcher)

Reading, University of

Start date: 01 October 2016 (Duration 3 years)

Dr David Leake and his colleagues at the University of Reading are finding out if an antioxidant drug called cysteamine could treat atherosclerosis.

Atherosclerosis develops when arteries become furred up with cholesterol, and it can cause heart attacks. LDL, a type of cholesterol, can enter the artery wall and become oxidised. Oxidised LDL is believed to be important in atherosclerosis development. But clinical trials of antioxidants – molecules which reverse the oxidation process - have been disappointing.

Dr Leake’s team has discovered that LDL can be oxidised within immune cells called macrophages, inside ‘bags’ called lysosomes. They have also discovered that an antioxidant drug called cysteamine, which accumulates in lysosomes, prevents atherosclerosis in mice. The drug is already used in patients with a rare lysosome disease and prolongs their lives considerably, and scientists have discovered it might prevent atherosclerosis in people.

In this project, Dr Leake will find out if cysteamine stops existing atherosclerosis from getting worse in mice. He will also work out how the drug stops LDL oxidation and if it can protect cells from the damaging effects of oxidised LDL.

This project could lead to more research to find out if cysteamine can protect against atherosclerosis and prevent heart disease in people.

Project details

Grant amount £182,779
Grant type Project Grant
Start Date 01 October 2016
Duration 3 years
Reference PG/15/98/31864
Status In progress

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