Atherosclerosis has been effectively avoided with many therapies that lower low-density lipoprotein cholesterol. However, significant cardiovascular burden remains. The effect of raising high-density lipoprotein (HDL) has been confounded by other factors (such as lowering triglycerides or LDL) and unsuccessful when attempting to solely increase HDL. Reviewing the available data, the failures of previous strategies may reflect the complexity of HDL in human metabolism and the heterogeneity of human genetics. dal-GenE (NCT02525939) represents the first large cardiovascular outcomes study to use a selective genomic test to identify the target population most likely to receive therapeutic benefit and uses a cholesterol ester transfer protein inhibitor, dalcetrapib. Both the cholesterol ester transfer protein target and the ADCY9 polymorphism identified by the diagnostic test are based on inheritance and an evolving understanding of inborn risk. Selective treatment of subpopulations may be the key to the conundrum of HDL as an actionable risk factor.
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