According to New Scientist, recent tests on mice has demonstrated that by injecting a CRISPR Cas 9 protein and a guiding RNA sequence, they were able to drastically reduce cholesterol levels in the animals, with the effects becoming permanent. Albeit CRISPR keeps improving, reducing the number of potentially dangerous errors it may introduce means that human trials are not expected for at least another decade.
In 2005, it was discovered that a few people naturally have very low cholesterol levels, thanks to mutations that prevent their livers from making a protein called PCSK9. “They have a lower incidence of cardiovascular disease and no apparent side effects whatsoever,” says Gilles Lambert at the University of Reunion Island, who studies PCSK9.
The PCSK9 protein normally circulates in the blood, where it degrades a protein found on the surface of blood vessels. This second protein removes LDL cholesterol from the blood: the faster it is degraded by PCSK9, the higher a person’s cholesterol levels. But people who lack PCSK9 due to genetic mutations have more of this LDL-removal protein, and therefore less cholesterol in their blood.
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