Liver disease – Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease

Liver disease – Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease

Guts UK is pleased to announce we have awarded Professor Jonathan Fallowfield at the University of Edinburgh £49,622.50 for research into liver disease.

What is liver disease?

Liver disease affects 1 in 4 people worldwide. During the early stages there are no symptoms. In some, it will progress to inflammation and cirrhosis, permanent liver damage.

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a condition where excessive fat builds up in the liver. As rates of obesity increase, so does the number of people in the UK with NAFLD. 1 in 5 people with NAFLD will develop serious liver problems, in which the liver stops functioning properly. This can be life-threatening, as people are at risk of developing liver cancer or bleeding from the gut, a medical emergency.

What do we know already?

Currently, we have no way of telling which 1 in 5 people with NAFLD will develop serious, life-threatening liver problems. There are no drugs ‘on the market’ to treat this condition.

In the UK currently, a sample of the patient’s tissue is taken from the liver and is examined to determine the stage of the condition. This indicates how the condition will progress.

What does this research aim to do?

The team want to use the tissue samples currently obtained to develop a test that can identify who is most at risk of developing life-threatening liver problems. To do this, they will look at changes in the liver on a molecular level using data obtained from 1,000 patients with NAFLD and 100 patients with normal livers.

With this large amount of data, they hope to identify which liver cells and molecules change between the different stages of the disease. Then, they hope to flag up those more likely to progress to life-threatening liver problems.

How might this benefit me, as a patient?

This study hopes to expand upon our molecular and cellular knowledge of liver disease to inform future research and help develop new, effective treatments that could change lives. In addition, if this study identifies who is at risk of developing life-threatening liver problems, we may be able to give people the right treatment sooner and save lives.

“This funding from Guts UK is really important, as we can now undertake the first analysis of all the data we’ve already collected. This has the potential to transform the care that patients receive and discover new medicines that we can test in clinical trials.”

1 in 5 people with NAFLD will develop serious and potentially life-threatening liver problems. This study aims to identify those at risk of developing life-threatening problems sooner, potentially saving lives.

Guts UK is the only UK charity funding research into the digestive system from top to tail. People are suffering, people are dying – all because of a lack of knowledge about our guts. But our research has the capacity to save and change lives. Your donations make it possible. Help the UK get to grips with guts by donating to Guts UK today.

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