A new drug being trialled for treating breast cancer and diabetes could also help those with heart problems.
During the trial, researchers from Aberdeen University found a single dose of the drug Trodusquemine could completely reverse the build-up of fatty material inside arteries.
The build-up of fat in arteries can lead to heart attacks and strokes due to the flow of blood being restricted or cut off.
In the pre-clinical trials, mice that were being tested on were shown to have less fat in their arteries after being given the drug.
While the drug has already been successful during trials at helping those with breast cancer and diabetes, this is the first time research has shown it could assist with long-term heart disease.
The £236,000 study was funded by the British Heart Foundation.
Professor Mirela Delibegovic and Dr Dawn Thompson from Aberdeen University’s Institute of Medical Sciences who led the study said: “All humans have some level of atherosclerosis. As you age you start to develop these fatty streaks inside your arteries.
“It is a big problem for people who are overweight or have underlying cardiovascular conditions.
“Trodusquemine has already been trialled for treatment of diabetes and breast cancer but this is the first time it has been used in models of atherosclerosis.”
They added: “These have only been tested at pre-clinical level, in mice so far but the results were quite impressive and showed that just a single dose of this drug seemed to completely reverse the effects.
“The next step is to test the ability of this drug to improve outcomes in human patients with developed atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease”.
Professor Jeremy Pearson, associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation, said: “Trodusquemine is in early clinical trials for the treatment of diabetes.
“This study shows it can also limit the build-up of fatty atherosclerotic plaques in mice. If we see the same effect in patients, the drug may prove even more useful than currently hoped for.”