A breakthrough vaccine that dramatically reduces fat in the arteries has been developed for the prevention of heart attacks.
The new vaccine, which can be administered by injection or nasal spray, could be available within five years.
Current treatment involves medication that reduces cholesterol and blood pressure.
But the study by Lund University in Sweden is the first which has targeted the underlying cause of heart disease.
Prof. Peter Weissberg, the British Heart Foundation medical director, said the vaccine was “very promising”.
Fatty deposits can place great strain on the heart by narrowing the arteries and forcing it to pump far harder.
This treatment works by stimulating the body’s immune system to produce antibodies which tackle this build-up.
In tests on mice, researchers found that it could reduce plaque by 60 to 70%, it was reported in the Daily Telegraph.
The resulting injection is waiting regulatory clearance to start clinical trials.
A second vaccine has been created as a nasal spray. A trial on 144 heart disease sufferers is under way in the U.S. and Canada.
But Prof. Jan Nilsson, professor of experimental cardiovascular research at Lund University, said it was unlikely that the drug would be administered like traditional vaccines in childhood.
“The antibody therapy in particularly is likely to be expensive, so you could probably only afford to give it to high-risk populations rather than everyone,” he told the Daily Telegraph.
Different ways of administering the vaccine are being developed and could be licensed within five years, the Frontiers in CardioVascular Biology conference at Imperial College London were told.