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The Heart Race

About five years ago, researchers discovered a mutation in PCSK9 that seemed to positively affect heart health, says Bloomberg's Robert Langreth. Normally, the gene encodes a protein that enables the body to accumulate LDL cholesterol. But the mutation — which occurs in an estimated 3 percent of the population — allows the body to get rid of more cholesterol, dropping a carrier's risk of heart attack by as much as 88 percent, Langreth says. And now, drug companies are vying to create a drug that taps into this PCSK9-variant potential. "More than a half-dozen companies led by Amgen, Sanofi, and Pfizer are developing a new family of treatments based on the science," Langreth says. "Amgen and Sanofi partner Regeneron Pharmaceuticals will present data from early human trials at the American Heart Association meeting next week." Amgen is testing its drug in patients with high cholesterol who cannot tolerate standard lipid-lowering drugs. In April, Amgen said a single dose of its compound lowered cholesterol in test patients by as much as 70 percent. Other companies like Merck and Isis Pharmaceuticals are working on anti-PCSK9 antibodies, Langreth adds.

The Scan

Fertility Fraud Found

Consumer genetic testing has uncovered cases of fertility fraud that are leading to lawsuits, according to USA Today.

Ties Between Vigorous Exercise, ALS in Genetically At-Risk People

Regular strenuous exercise could contribute to motor neuron disease development among those already at genetic risk, Sky News reports.

Test Warning

The Guardian writes that the US regulators have warned against using a rapid COVID-19 test that is a key part of mass testing in the UK.

Science Papers Examine Feedback Mechanism Affecting Xist, Continuous Health Monitoring for Precision Medicine

In Science this week: analysis of cis confinement of the X-inactive specific transcript, and more.