Emerging therapeutic approaches to treat dyslipidemia.
Preiss D., Packard CJ.
Statins are safe, efficacious and the cornerstone of cardiovascular disease prevention strategies. A number of add-on therapies with complementary actions on the plasma lipid profile have been tested in large scale trials to see if they give incremental benefit. In particular, the 'HDL hypothesis' - that raising this lipoprotein will promote reverse cholesterol transport and reduce cardiovascular risk - has been examined using drugs such as dalcetrapib and niacin. So far, results have been negative, and this has raised questions over the nature of the association of HDL with atherosclerosis, and whether statins reduce cardiovascular risk through multiple mechanisms. There is still an unmet clinical need especially in those patients who cannot tolerate statins and those with severe hyperlipidemia, and so new therapeutic approaches have been developed. These show significant promise in terms of LDL-cholesterol lowering but significant challenges include cost, route of administration (subcutaneous injection) and side effects. Testing in major outcome trials will be required to demonstrate their clinical utility.