An injection given twice a year to lower cholesterol could offer millions of people an alternative to statins. Picture: PxHere

London - An injection given twice a year to lower cholesterol could offer millions of people an alternative to statins.

Earlier this year a team of scientists led by Imperial College London reported that inclisiran, a "gene-silencing" drug, could reduce "bad" LDL cholesterol by 50 percent.

Now researchers have found it works for people with inherited high cholesterol and may also be safe for those with cardiovascular disease.

Experts hope the breakthrough treatment will be available within 18 months in the UK.

The latest results were presented at the American Heart Association’s annual Scientific Sessions in Philadelphia.

Injections were trialled on almost 500 people for whom statins do not work well, because they have an inherited condition, which causes high cholesterol and affects around one in 250 people. It lowered cholesterol, providing a valuable second therapy.

A second study, also presented in Philadelphia, found inclisiran might also be effective as an add-on for people who have cardiovascular disease and high cholesterol despite using statins. Given twice a year to more than 1 500 people, it lowered cholesterol by more than 50 percent and was found to be safe.

Professor Kausik Ray, of Imperial College London, was involved in both trials and said: "These injections reduce bad cholesterol by around 50 percent and have a good safety profile."

Around 6 million people in Britain are prescribed statins, but almost half do not see their cholesterol fall because they are on the wrong dose or have stopped taking the daily pills.

Daily Mail