The experimental pill anacetrapib may help boost levels of “good” HDL cholesterol, and has been found to be safe in preliminary clinical studies. WebMD reports that researchers were surprised by how well the new drug performed. “Our jaws dropped when we saw the 138% increase in HDL [over placebo]. And our jaws dropped even more when LDL went down by 40%,” compared with placebo, says study leader Christopher P. Cannon, MD.
The study followed over 1,600 heart disease patients who were taking statin drugs. Anacetrapib did not appear to raise the risk of heart attacks or death related to heart disease, a major stumbling block for a similar drug, torcetrapib. However, studies of that drug also suggest that better HDL levels do not necessarily decrease heart disease.
No conclusions about anacetrapib’s potential for curbing heart disease can be made until the next phase of research is completed. The next study will involve 30,000 patients and may last up to four years.
The new findings were reported at the American Heart Association’s (AHA) Scientific Sessions 2010 and simultaneously published online by the New England Journal of Medicine.