A new cholesterol-fighting “good bacteria” pill could be as effective as statins in unclogging arteries – but without any of the nasty side effects.
The first trial of the new daily pill, which is made of hundreds of millions of freeze-dried bacteria, showed average cholesterol levels fell by 37% in participants who had high levels of harmful cholesterol.
Doctor Stephen O’Hara, chief executive of Optibiotix, the company which developed the new treatment, said the success rate was comparable to that of statins – although more trials will be needed to confirm the results.
Dr O’Hara said: “We are really pleased with the results of this study, which opens up opportunities for a single product for both conditions [high cholesterol and highblood pressure] or for two different products targeting separate conditions.
“This product could be used by itself or in combination with other treatments, such as statins, to provide the same efficacy at a lower dose, with potentially fewer side effects.”
he new pill could help reduce our reliance on statins. Between five and 10 million people currently take statins in the UK to reduce their levels of bad cholesterol and control heart disease, but side effects include headaches, nosebleeds and joint pain.
The new treatment is made of a strain of the bacteria Lactobacillus plantarum, a microbe commonly found in fermented food products such as sauerkraut and pickles.
The trial involved 50 volunteers taking a pill a day for three months. The bacterium used creates an enzyme that chops up the chains of fatty compounds in bile, meaning far fewer get into the bloodstream as cholesterol.
Optibiotix is currently developing a range of treatments for diseases including diabetes, high cholesterol and obesity, based on changing the amount and type of bacteria in the human gut.