- Johns Hopkins scientists have halted the development of atherosclerotic heart disease in animals by blocking the activity of a sugar-and-fat molecule residing in the membranes of cells.
- Using a widely available man-made compound called D-PDMP, the researchers prevented the buildup of fatty plaque and calcium deposits inside the blood vessels of mice and rabbits fed a high-fat, cholesterol-laden diet.
- Treatment with D-PDMP appears to work by altering a range of biological glitches that affect the body’s ability to properly use, transport and purge itself of cholesterol — the fatty substance that accumulates inside vessels and fuels heart disease.
D-PDMP, which is already widely used in basic research to experimentally block and study cell growth and other basic cell functions, is deemed safe in animals, the investigators say. For example, animals in the current study had no side effects even when given D-PDMP doses 10 times higher than the minimum effective dose, the study found. The research team is currently designing a compound drug with D-PDMP, which they soon plan to test in other animals and, eventually, in humans.