Despite the recent setbacks in Elan's clinical trials, vaccines still have enormous potential as therapeutic agents for a variety of disorders. As reported last week at the American College of Cardiology's 51st annual scientific session in Atlanta, one such promising application may be the control of cholesterol-linked vascular diseases such as atherosclerosis.

Prediman Shah and colleagues at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, treated hypercholesterolemic mice with antibodies to select regions of apolipoprotein B100, thought to be a major component of LDL, or "bad" cholesterol. Shat et al. reported impressive results-in mice. The occurrence of atherosclerotic plaques shrank from 20 percent of the aorta to six percent. The number of macrophages infiltrating the aorta were reduced by almost sixfold, suggesting that the reduction in plaque density helped to prevent inflammation of the blood vessel.—Tom Fagan

References: Reyes OS, Chyu K-Y, Yano J, Shao X, Cercek B, Kaul S, Nilsson J, Shah PK. Immunization with a novel human ApoB100 related peptide reduces atherosclerosis and inflammation in ApoE null mice. 51st American College of Cardiology Meeting. Abstract No. 1128-89.

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  1. Abstract No. 1128-89.

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  1. . Dopaminergic loss and inclusion body formation in alpha-synuclein mice: implications for neurodegenerative disorders. Science. 2000 Feb 18;287(5456):1265-9. PubMed.