Scientists are heralding a discovery that could prove crucial to boosting levels of 'good' cholesterol.
Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine have discovered that a group of liver enzymes called proprotein convertases (PCs) increase the level of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) in the blood.
The high-density lipoproteins transport cholesterol from the tissues of the body to the liver so it can be excreted in the form of bile.
Low levels of HDL-C increase the risk of heart attack and stroke.
Although this study was performed in mice, the scientists expect that the pathway for controlling HDL-C will be the same for humans.
Senior author Daniel J Rader said: "This is encouraging because it suggests that either the PC or EL enzyme might be targets for drug therapy to raise good cholesterol, an unmet medical need in patients with low HDL-C."
The study was funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and the American Heart Association.