Phospholipid Transfer Protein, a Regulator of Cholesterol
Introduction The level of cholesterol in the blood is an important risk factor for atherosclerosis and coronary artery disease (CAD) which can eventually lead to heart attack or stroke. Cholesterol is present in many forms, the most familiar of which are the lipoproteins LDL and HDL. As atherosclerosis and CAD are associated with low levels of HDL, it is desirable to increase HDL levels in persons at risk of disease. Thus, the control of HDL metabolism is a promising target for the development of drugs that control cholesterol. Technology description Phospholipid transfer protein (PLTP), also known as LTP-II (lipid transfer protein II), is a key regulator of HDL levels in the blood. HDL modifications by PLTP can lead to the active removal of cholesterol from cells and from the blood. Scientists at the University of Washington cloned the full-length cDNA for the human PLTP gene, allowing recombinant expression of large amounts of the enzyme. They then developed a simple assay that would allow the identification of compounds that may activate or inhibit PLTP activity. Business opportunity The purified enzyme and assay method could be used to screen small molecules to identify compounds that affect HDL synthesis. This technology could also be utilized to create a kit for carrying out the PLTP assay method. Stage of development While the cloning of PLTP and development of the activity assay method are complete, the inventors continue to further characterize the role of PLTP in HLD synthesis and its role in atherosclerosis.
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