Professor Manuel Mayr, King’s College London
It is well-known that risk factors such as obesity, smoking, lack of exercise, high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels and diabetes can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). However, assessment of these traditional risk factors fails to predict CVD in certain patients.
People tend to have a lipid blood test to help calculate their risk of developing CVD which relies on measurements of just four classes of lipid and in some CVD patients levels can be within the recommended range.
The aim of this project was to develop a ‘lipid profiling’ test that can measure a wider range of different fats and ‘lipoproteins’ in the blood to better identify people at increased risk of CVD.
The team’s work first measured more than 100 different lipid species in nearly 700 individuals and associated these measurements with CVD outcomes over a 10-year observation period. This research complemented this lipid profiling work by analysing the protein component of ‘lipoproteins’ that bind lipids and help to transport them in the blood. The findings provide evidence that the advanced techniques used by the team can reliably detect and quantify a wider range of lipids and lipoproteins, and that some of these may be promising new ‘biomarkers’ for assessing CVD risk.
Professor Mayr’s team now plans to develop the lipoprotein profiling test further. A more comprehensive test for CVD prediction than the traditional measurements of lipid classes currently used, could help with early diagnosis and prevention through lifestyle changes or medication.