Cholesterol-lowering statin drugs are among the most-prescribed medicines in the U.S., but they can cause liver toxicity and other problems for some patients. Now, Saint Louis University researchers have identified a way to turn off key piece of genetic coding that effectively eliminates the toxic side effects of statins.
The study, funded by the National Institutes of Health and the American Heart Association, could provide a new way to produce safer cholesterol-lowering drugs for the millions who take them.
"As we learn more about the way cholesterol is moved and metabolized through the body, we have more tools at our disposal to try to limit potential side effects of cholesterol-managing drugs like statins," said Ángel Baldán, a Saint Louis biochemist who helped conduct the study published in the journal EMBO Molecular Medicine.
Baldán’s research determined a substance that plays a key role in regulating cholesterol in the body – known as microRNA miR-33 – can counteract the liver toxicity caused by statins.
"This discovery may ultimately lead to treatment options …for those who suffer from statin side effects," he said.