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Could an injection ‘silence’ high cholesterol?

September 13, 2021

An exciting step forward in the technique known as ‘Gene Silencing’ has been taken following the approval of a new cholesterol-lowering injection by the NHS in the UK.

Up to 300,000 people are set to benefit over the next three years from the Inclisiran jab which will be mainly administered to patients with a genetic condition that leads to high cholesterol, those who have already suffered a heart attack or stroke, or those who haven’t responded well to other cholesterol-lowering drugs, such as statins.

Unlike other treatments, Inclisiran uses a technique known as “gene silencing.”

This emerging therapeutic technique works by targeting the underlying causes of a disease, rather than the symptoms it causes. It does this by focusing on a particular gene and then preventing it from making the protein that it produces.

Until now, most treatments using gene silencing technology have been used to treat rare genetic diseases.

This means the cholesterol jab will be one of the first gene silencing drugs used to treat people on a wider scale. Researchers are also currently investigating whether gene silencing could be used to treat a wide variety of health conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease and cancer.

Several more gene silencing drugs are currently being investigated to treat a variety of other disorders, including in the kidney (such as preventing adverse reactions after a transplant), the skin (scarring), cancer (including melanoma, prostate, pancreatic, brain and other tumours) and eye disorders (such as age-related macular degeneration and glaucoma).

Researchers are also investigating whether gene silencing therapies could be useful in treating neurological and brain disorders, such as Huntington’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.

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