Scientists say they have taken a major step towards a new generation of drugs for many conditions, including cancer.
Writing in Nature, a Danish team said they had “silenced” key genetic material in cells called RNA, thought to play an important role in disease.
Working on monkeys, they cut the animals’ cholesterol levels by silencing strands of micro-RNA in liver cells controlling its metabolism.
Previous tests had only been carried out in a test-tube, or on rodents.
The study holds out hope for the treatment of liver diseases.
The team from the Copenhagen-based drug firm Santaris Pharma are aiming to use their findings to develop a treatment for Hepatitis C rather than high cholesterol, for which there are already a number of effective treatments.
But they say the technique could ultimately be employed to treat a range of conditions, including certain types of cancer, cardiac diseases and metabolic problems like diabetes.