Rhodes Students Help Fight High Cholesterol


Publication Date: 10/12/2009

Working in the lab of Professor Mauricio Cafiero, Megan Mckenna ’08, Emily Kee’09, Maura Livengood ’10, and Erin Carter ’12, examined the enzyme, HMG-CoA, which is responsible for the rate-limiting step in the production of cholesterol.

“Since statin drugs for lowering cholesterol (Crestor, Lipitor) target this enzyme, a detailed understanding of this enzyme is crucial in the development of the next generation of cholesterol lowering drugs,” Cafiero explains. An article on their work has been accepted for publication in Journal of Physical Chemistry B, which he says is “the most cited (highest rated) journal in the area of physical chemistry.”

That’s not the end of the story. Hunter Utkov ’10 used the information collected by the previous students to design a novel molecule which might be effective in lowering cholesterol. Utkov has presented this work at the 13th International Congress on Quantum Chemistry in Helsinki, Finland (June 2009), and at the National American Chemical Society Conference in Salt Lake City (March 2009). 

New work is being done on this project by Allison Price ’11, who is studying the properties of the new drug molecules in comparison to a list of known statin drugs.

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