Studying HDL Cholesterol Is the New Frontier for Researchers

Studying high density lipoprotein (HDL) or 'good' cholesterol as it is also referred to as, is the new frontier that is being targeted by researchers who hope to find out more about how it helps the body stay healthy. According to experts, HDL cholesterol should be 45 or higher in the case of men and fifty-five or more in the case of women. Ideally, it should be sixty for everybody, with evidence suggesting that each 1 mg/dL increase in HDL results in a corresponding reduction of two to three percent in the risk of heart disease. It is also believed that HDL cholesterol picks up cholesterol from the walls of the arteries and transports it to the liver for further metabolizing. In addition, HDL cholesterol also has an anti-inflammatory effect as well as benefits the arteries to keep them in good health. According to recent studies, it can even actually halt or reverse coronary artery disease.

Keeps the Arteries Healthy

HDL cholesterol carries approximately one third to one fourth of blood cholesterol and is thought to be 'good' because a great proportion of it helps protect against heart attacks. Doctors say that having low LDL levels and high HDL levels is good for a person's health, and is the best way of reducing the risk of heart disease. With elevated HDL cholesterol, there will be less LDL cholesterol and this is why doctors have begun to focus their attentions to HDL cholesterol There is however, not enough available drug therapy to increase HDL levels which are, at present, only modest at best. Nevertheless, there is reason for optimism that newer methods will soon come along to help increase HDL levels with minimal side effects and major efforts in this direction are underway.

There are new drugs being developed that include cholesteryl estel transfer protein (CETP) which is a 'bad' molecule that can also move cholesterol from the HDL form to LDL form. If this molecule is inhibited, HDL levels could be increased. Big pharmaceutical companies such as Pfizer have developed CETP inhibitors that promise much - at least as indicated from their preliminary trials. Companies such as Avant Pharmaceuticals are also developing an anti-CETP vaccination.

There are other classes of drugs including the PPAR (peroxisome proliferation activated receptor agonists) that are being studied to help raise HDL levels and which work through the stimulation of a pro-HDL gene. However, even though there are many companies working to succeed in such efforts, research is not as far along as for CETP drugs.