Might high cholesterol one day be a thing of the past? A story in the New York Times about an experimental drug suggests as much. Three companies—Amgen, Pfizer and Sanofi—are racing to complete tests and gain approval for their own version. The drug mimics a rare genetic mutation that causes some people to have ridiculously low levels of LDL, the form of cholesterol that causes heart disease. How low? For most adults, a ballpark of 100 is normal. One woman near Dallas with the mutation has a level of 14, with no adverse effects.
The caveats: Right now, the drug is expensive, on par with new cancer drugs. Also, large-scale studies proving definitively that it does what heart doctors hope it does are just getting started. But in the best-case scenario, an inexpensive pill form of the drug will eventually emerge, one that up to one in four Americans might take. Early trials by all three companies are promising: Patients who had levels above 100 are seeing them sink to 50 and below. In fact, researchers are in the "uncharted territory" of trying to figure out whether levels can go too low, says one. Click for the full story. (Read more medical breakthrough stories.)