Researchers from University of Leicester and the University of California, Los Angeles, have announced a breakthrough in their research on reducing bad cholesterol in the body.

The new findings by the team is considered as a major advance in developing drugs to reduce low-density lipoprotein (LDL), popularly known as 'bad' cholesterol.

Prof John Schwabe, Dr Ben Goult and Dr Louise Fairall at the University of Leicester in collaboration with the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) have published their research in 'Genes & Development' and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS). 

The cholesterol is transported from the liver to the cells by low density lipoproteins (LDL). But once cholesterol exceeds the body requirements, cells stops absorbing them, and LDL start depositing them in artery walls, leading to clogging of arteries.  So the LDL is held responsible for blocks in arteries, stroke and heart diseases.

Cells in the liver produce an LDL receptor that binds LDL and removes it from the blood, thereby lowering cholesterol levels.

The scientists have characterized an enzyme called IDOL that plays a key role in regulating the amount of LDL receptor available to bind with 'bad' cholesterol. Therefore, targeting the enzyme with drugs could increase the levels of LDL receptors present, thus lowering circulating cholesterol in humans.

Professor John Schwabe, head of Biochemistry at the University of Leicester, said: Development of a drug that interferes with IDOL's activity could help lower levels of LDL. Our research has greatly enhanced our understanding of this important process.

The team has filed two patents for developing drugs that would act as a catalyst for lowering LDL levels.