Narrator: This is Science Today. Atherosclerosis, a disease in which plaque builds up in the inner lining of an artery, is a major target for the development of new drugs. Christopher Glass, a professor of cellular and molecular medicine at the University of California, San Diego, says the cell called a macrophage, which normally plays a role in immunity, also plays a key role in the development of atherosclerosis.
Glass: The macrophage is a cell that crawls into the artery wall and picks up cholesterol that is the cholesterol that accumulates within the artery wall and ultimately, is associated with the development of what we call atherosclerotic lesions. These are blockages in the artery. And so what we would like to be able to do is identify new ways of preventing the accumulation of macrophages in the blood vessel wall and their accumulation of cholesterol.
Narrator: Glass' group discovered that anti-diabetic drugs also activate proteins that can alter the ability of macrophages to pick up cholesterol.
Glass: The ability of these drugs to inhibit atherosclerosis suggested the whole new therapy to target that was different from lowering glucose levels in diabetics.
Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.