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Experimental drug boosts HDL counts

A novel drug called torcetrapib can dramatically increase blood concentrations of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), the beneficial cholesterol, according to a preliminary study. Derived from a trial involving only 19 people, these data paved the way for two much larger studies that are just under way.

Seventeen men and two women took a torcetrapib pill daily for 4 weeks, then an inert pill for 4 more weeks. Scientists recorded the amount of HDL in the volunteers' blood after each period. Some of the volunteers also completed a third drug regimen, in which they took torcetrapib twice a day.

Nine of the participants took the anticholesterol drug atorvastatin along with torcetrapib.

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