It would be addressing the actual causes of heart disease rather than targeting factors such as high levels of bad cholesterol and blood pressure.

Lack of exercise, poor diet, smoking and drinking too much alcohol are the main causes of heart disease but there are strong hereditary factors too, the Telegraph reports.

Dan Nilsson, professor of experimental cardiovascular research at Lund University, Sweden said: "People at high risk of heart attacks are likely to be the first candidates for immune approaches. Such treatments, since they have totally different modes of action, could be used in addition to the current therapies."

Working with Prediman Shah, professor at Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute in Los Angeles, US, the team were able to formulate a vaccine that reduced plaque build up by 60 to 70 percent in mice.

The resulting CVX-210 vaccine, being developed as an injection by CardioVax, is awaiting regulatory clearance to start clinical trials.

Coronary heart disease occurs when fatty plaques build up in the blood vessels feeding the heart and over time become narrowed. Parts of the plaque may break off causing a clot which can block teh artery, causing a heart attack.

These findings were presented at the CardioVascular Biology meeting at Imperial College London.