A new drug can slash triglyceride levels nearly in half by targeting a genetic driver of high fat levels in the bloodstream, researchers said.

The injectable drug, olezarsen, lowered triglyceride levels by 49% at the 50 milligram (mg) dose and by 53% at the 80 mg dose compared to a placebo, researchers reported April 7 in the New England Journal of Medicine. The findings were presented simultaneously at the American College of Cardiology’s annual meeting in Atlanta.

The drug also reduced blood levels of two other contributors to clogged arteries, apolopoprotein B and “bad” cholesterol, results show.

Olezarsen inhibits the activity of APOC3, a gene that typically restrains the liver’s ability to filter triglycerides out of the bloodstream, the researchers said.

“These findings indicate that targeting APOC3 is a promising new pathway for lowering triglycerides and potentially reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke,” said researcher Dr. Brian Bergmark, of the Brigham and Women’s Hospital Division of Cardiovascular Medicine.

Triglycerides are fatty particles in the bloodstream that contribute to the risk of heart disease, both on their own and in combination with “bad” LDL cholesterol, according to Harvard Medical School.

For the study, researchers recruited 154 adults already on cholesterol-lowering therapy. They were split into three groups and assigned to either take a placebo or a low or high dose of olezarsen, through injections administered every four weeks for a year.

Either dosage of olezarsen reduced triglyceride levels by about the same amount.

The drug also reduced levels of apolipoprotein B — a protein that transports unhealthy cholesterol in the bloodstream — by about 18%, and cut back levels of unhealthy cholesterol by 23% to 25%.

Researchers said larger and longer-term studies are needed to further assess olezarsen, particularly the drug’s ability to prevent heart attacks and strokes.

More information

Harvard Medical School has more on triglycerides.

SOURCE: Brigham and Women’s Hospital, news release, April 7, 2024

Source: HealthDay

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