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A team of researchers from the Vanderbilt University Medical Center has discovered a “scavenger” molecule that could be a game-changer in developing future therapies for atherosclerosis.

The researchers observed that the small “scavenger” molecule plays an important role in reducing inflammation in blood vessels and forming plaque atherosclerotic plaque. They observed mice subjects, and they believe that the findings have huge potential for influencing future treatments for atherosclerosis. Thus, the findings point to a glimmer of promise for patients suffering from the illness and the medical community, thanks to renewed hope for better treatments for the condition.

What the scientists observed the “scavenger” molecule

The newly discovered scavenger molecule has been named 2-HOBA. Researchers involved in the Atherosclerosis study observed that the molecule was able to reverse the damage caused by oxidative stress. The latter is one of the main causes of atherosclerosis, as observed in the familial hypercholesterolemia (FH) mouse model.

FH is an inherited type of high cholesterol that mainly affects humans. Individuals with this condition have high levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), also known as bad cholesterol and they are usually at a higher risk of cardiovascular conditions such as stroke and heart attacks. Researchers also observed recently that people with FH are also characterized by an impairment of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), which is also known as good cholesterol.

Initial studies demonstrated that 2-HOBA prevents oxidative modification of LDL and HDL. It also contributes significantly to reducing atherosclerosis in mice characterized by cholesterol levels and the lack of the LDL receptor.

“Treatment of the high-cholesterol mice with 2-HOBA reduced modification of HDL, improving its function, and reduced plaque formation in the arteries by up to 60% without impacting blood cholesterol levels,” stated Dr. MacRae Linton who was a corresponding author in the study and is also the director of the Atherosclerosis Research Unit at the Vanderbilt Lipid Clinic.

Existing atherosclerosis treatments designed to lower LDL can lower the risk of cardiovascular illnesses. However, some inflammatory risks and cardiovascular risks highlight the need for newer therapeutic approaches.