Experimental shot may help people with genetically high cholesterol


Houston doctors are testing a cholesterol shot that acts on the genetic cause of cholesterol. And it's radically reducing cholesterol levels in their studies.

"I kinda ignored it for a long time until I had a heart attack," Terry Lim said.

Lim was 34. She had to have a triple bypass, then an artificial heart valve because of the heart attack's damage. What caused this at 34? Her cholesterol.

"It has gone as high as mid-300s to maybe close to 400," she said.

Lim's extremely high cholesterol is genetic. And though she eats right, and takes the maximum cholesterol medicine she can, her LDL, or bad cholesterol, stays around 110 to 130. That's made her feel uneasy.

"Like a ticking time bomb," Lim said.

Now Lim gives herself a shot twice a month. It's an experimental cholesterol shot, and it's dropped her LDL into the teens.

This shot that Lim takes is one of several things they're testing that may be able to do what the statin drugs can't.

Lim is in a study conducted by Dr. Christie Ballantyne.

"Lowers LDL fairly dramatically. You can see 50 percent, 60 percent reductions so it's being looked at in people with genetic disorders, people with very high LDL's," Ballantyne said.

It's one of several experimental drugs he's testing that lower cholesterol by using genetic targets. The potential is huge: helping people with hereditary high cholesterol, and those who can't take statin drugs because of side effects.

"Very exciting and stayed tuned. We think this is something that may be of benefit to many people," Ballantyne said.

And this study drug is giving terry some hope that she can prevent a repeat heart attack.

"I was 34 and I could have lost my life," Lim said.

The cholesterol shot is only available through the study, but they are still taking volunteers for it, and for several more studies on similar new cholesterol medicines. If you have high cholesterol and are interested, call 713-798-3330 or email CCDP@bcm.edu.

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