A vaccine delivered in an injection or nasal spray to prevent heart attacks could be available within the next five years.
Coronary heart disease and the build-up of fat deposits in arteries are the main cause of heart attacks. When fatty deposits build up in the blood vessels that feed the heart, over time such channels become narrowed. This, in turn, leads to clots -- and once an artery blocks, a heart attack can occur.
Researchers at the Lund University in Sweden say the have achieved a major breakthrough in heart attack prevention -- by creating a vaccine that stimulates the body's immune system to produce antibodies to prevent heart disease by stopping fat building up in the arteries.
The team, led by professor Prediman Shah from Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute in the U.S. and professor Nilsson from Lund University in Sweden, say the developments have shown it is possible to change how an immune system functions in order to combat the blocks and subsequent inflammation.
In trials, the vaccine reduced plaque build-up in mice by 60 to 70 percent.
Existing treatments generally focus on using drugs in order to reduce cholesterol and blood pressure, however this is the first type of development that hones in on fighting the build-up in its preliminary stages.
Peter Weissberg, Medical Director of the British Heart Foundation, said the vaccine was "very promising".
According to the Swedish scientists, the new vaccine can be applied either by injection or by nasal spray -- and may be available to the general public within the next 5 years.
The injected version of the vaccine is currently awaiting approval to begin clinical trials. The nasal spray is currently being tested on 144 heart disease sufferers in both the U.S. and Canada.
Image credit: Andres Rueda