MELBOURNE, Australia -- A way to boost good cholesterol and avert repeat heart attacks, which has eluded two of the world's biggest drugmakers, may have been sitting in an Australian firm's trash.

The company CSL realized that instead of discarding unused blood components left over from making treatments for hemophilia, burns and immune-system problems, it could extract the beneficial cholesterol, HDL, and infuse it into patients. The idea is that HDL therapy may quell inflamed arteries and dissolve the life-threatening plaques that clog them, said Andrew Cuthbertson, CSL's chief scientist.

The experimental treatment was the focus of three papers Wednesday in Dallas at the American Heart Association's scientific meeting. Mid-stage studies showed a "dramatic and rapid increase" in key indicators of the process in which bad cholesterol, or LDL, is flushed from patients' arteries.

"If this works, we could save a lot of lives," Cuthbertson said.

-- Bloomberg News

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