Twice yearly cholesterol jab shows promise

3 September 2019        

Category: BHF Comment

A new gene silencing drug could be used to lower ‘bad-cholesterol’ in the blood according to new findings presented at the European Society of Cardiology conference in Paris.

a syringe drawing up medicaton

Injection of the new drug, called inclisiran, reduced cholesterol levels by around 50% in patients also taking a maximum dose of a statin. Importantly, there was also an associated reduction in heart attack and stroke in people taking the drug. 

Inclisiran is one of the first of a completely new class of medicines (small interfering RNAs, known as gene silencing drugs) that can block production of specific molecules for many months. Instead of being taken in pill form they are given to patients as a single injection under the skin.  

Longer-term trials are now needed to confirm sustained clinical benefit and to confirm safety, but these results are very encouraging – and may point the way to a future where medicines like Inclisiran replace statins.    
Cholesterol is a fatty substance found in your blood. It's produced naturally in the liver. Everyone has cholesterol. And we need it to stay healthy because every cell in our body uses it. 

However, having high levels of ‘bad’ (non-HDL) cholesterol can increase your risk of heart and circulatory diseases such as heart attack, stroke and vascular dementia. 

Some people can effectively lower their cholesterol levels by making lifestyle changes, such as improving their diet and exercise. When this is unsuccessful, reducing cholesterol by taking a statin daily is a highly effective way to reduce the risk of a heart attack or stroke.  

However, some people are unable to effectively lower their cholesterol with statins, and it’s these patients who would benefit from this new way of lowering cholesterol.

Professor Sir Nilesh Samani, Medical Director at the British Heart Foundation said:

“Lowering your LDL or ‘bad’ cholesterol is a key goal in reducing your risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke. This injection under the skin may be a safe and effective way of delivering a gene-silencing drug that works on the liver to lower LDL cholesterol. As it’s injected twice a year, some patients may prefer to have this treatment rather than taking a pill every day. More work is needed to prove the long-term safety of the drug, but this could provide a significant advance in preventing heart and circulatory disease.”

find out more about heart disease risk factors