Study shows drug could help lower type of cholesterol

Study shows drug could help lower type of cholesterol

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University of Iowa researchers say drug appears to boost statins

New research published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association contains potentially good news for the approximately one in every six adults in the United States affected by high cholesterol.

According to the University of Iowa-led study, the addition of the drug evolocumab resulted in additional lowering of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) levels. Evolocumab is a human monoclonal antibody that works by blockingPCSK9, a gene that inhibits the liver's ability to clear LDL cholesterol from the blood.

Jennifer Robinson
Jennifer Robinson

“A simple way to describe evolocumab is that it can act as a statin ‘booster’,” says lead investigator Jennifer Robinson, director of the Prevention Intervention Center and professor of the Departments of Epidemiology and Internal Medicine, College of Public Health and Carver College of Medicine at the University of Iowa. “For anyone still struggling to lower cholesterol, even while taking statin therapy, this could be a big help.”

Robinson and colleagues conducted a 12-week study that evaluated evolocumab in reducing LDL cholesterol. The researchers found that all evolocumab-treated groups showed highly significant reductions in LDL cholesterol vs. placebo, and the drug was well tolerated by patients. Some of the results were as follows:

  • 66–75 percent reduction of LDL cholesterol levels with evolocumab injections every two weeks or 63–75 percent on a four-week schedule
  • Patients achieved an LDL cholesterol level of <70mg/dL in 86–94 percent in the moderate-intensity statin groups and 93–95 percent in the high-intensity groups
  • Evolucumab lowered LDL cholesterol more than ezetimibe, another drug commonly added to statins to further lower cholesterol, which lowered LDL cholesterol by 15-20 percent

Evolocumab also significantly reduced non-HDL cholesterol, apolipoprotein B, and lipoprotein (a) levels. The researchers concluded that the study's safety and efficacy endpoints were met.

"The positive results from this study show that adding evolocumab to statin therapy additionally lowers LDL cholesterol levels when added to moderate or high doses of statins," says Robinson. "While statins are effective in reducing LDL cholesterol levels and the risk of heart attack and stroke, some patients still need more LDL- lowering treatment options."

“Further studies are needed to evaluate longer-term clinical outcomes and safety of this approach for LDL-C lowering,” Robinson adds.


Jennifer Brown, UI Health Care Marketing and Communications, 319-356-7124
Bill Barker, College of Public Health, 319-384-4277


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