Washington: Scientists claim to have found how ‘bad’ cholesterol accumulates in the human blood.

A team at the University of New South Wales says that a protein, which directs traffic within cells, is responsible for accumulation of "bad" cholesterol, a finding which could pave the way for effective treatment for a range of diseases.

Professor Rob Yang, who led the team, said: "Cholesterol is carried around our bloodstream, packaged in particles called lipoproteins.

"Cholesterol from the low-density lipoproteins – also known as "bad" cholesterol -- enters our cells and deposits at different locations through a poorly understood maze of transport routes."

The team found that the protein -- known as Hrs -- plays a specific role in directing how and where low-density lipoproteins are deposited.

The scientists showed in experiments that reducing the amount of Hrs causes cholesterol to accumulate in endosomes, a cellular compartment usually containing little cholesterol, the 'Cell Reports' journal said.

"This discovery provides a better understanding of how cells handle cholesterol. Misdirection of cholesterol will cause it to accumulate in the wrong places in a cell, resulting in disturbed cholesterol metabolism and eventual cell death.

"This will in turn contribute to the development of heart disease, and a number of neurological disorders including Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease," Yang said in a release by the university.

The team is now trying to identify other factors that may co-operate with Hrs to help direct cholesterol traffic, and in turn may point towards new therapeutic strategies against heart and neurodegenerative diseases.