An enzyme that plays an important role in reducing heart disease has been identified.
US researchers found that the enzyme, cholesteryl ester hydrolase (CEH), controls the amount of cholesterol that can be removed by high density lipoprotein (HDL) or so-called 'good cholesterol'.
In the animal study, increasing the removal of cholesterol led to a reduction in the number of plaques in the coronary artery, which supplies blood to the heart.
Cholesterol is known to increase susceptibility to heart attack and stroke.
Lead researcher Dr Shobha Ghosh: "These findings not only change the current thinking of managing heart disease but also clearly open avenues for the development of new therapies.
"By identifying CEH as a new therapeutic target, we expect that in the future patients with heart disease will have more options to aggressively treat heart disease."
She said that the levels of CEH in blood cells could potentially be used as a marker for an individual's risk of heart disease.
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