NASH: A Public Health Issue and a growing concern

NASH is an acronym that stands for Non-Alcoholic SteatoHepatitis. It is the most severe form of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), and is characterized by the presence of an abnormal accumulation of fat in the liver. As NASH evolves, over time it can result in excessive scarring in the liver (fibrosis), a natural response to injury which can lead to liver cirrhosis or liver cancer.

This video by  by The NASH Education Program describes why NASH is becoming a public Health Issue.



Why Scotland is taylor-made for Precision Medicine

An interview in the Scotsman newspaper with Dr Diane Harbison , CEO of the Stratified Medicine Scotland Innovation Centre on why Scotland is an ideal location to develop a  “cluster” of precision medicine companies. It has a small, stable population, a single unified health system, world-renowned universities, some of the best health data in the world, not to mention a high incidence of complex disease – all the right ingredients for making new discoveries in precision medicine.



International NASH Day

Today (12th June 2018) is the first International NASH Day – a day to help raise awareness of this silent epidemic which currently has no approved treatment. We’re working on a project which we hope will change this – but more about that later. 

First, some facts about NASH. 25% of the world’s population has non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is the most severe form. It’s a disease which is strongly linked to modern unhealthy and inactive lifestyles – 25-30% of obese people have NASH.

Chronic liver disease (increasingly due to NAFLD) is the third most common cause of premature death in the UK. By 2020, it’s expected that NASH will be the leading condition for liver transplants. Early recognition of the disease and effective treatment is urgently required to reduce deaths.

This disease has an economic burden too – in Germany, France, Italy, and the UK combined, there are around 52 million people with NAFLD, with an annual cost of €35 billion.

So, what can be done? I’m currently the chief investigator of a team, managed by the Stratified Medicine Scotland Innovation Centre and led by industry partners Eagle Genomics, who are developing a ground-breaking project which could help develop new tests and treatments for patients with NASH. The team was awarded a £1.7M collaborative grant from Innovate UK (the UK’s innovation agency) earlier this year to develop a Data Commons, which will be the first in the world for NASH.

A Data Commons brings together data, storage and computing systems, and is a commonly used tool for analysing and sharing data to create a resource for patients, charities, clinicians and the research community.

As more health data is added, our NASH Data Commons will evolve into a smarter, more comprehensive knowledge system that will be used to make new discoveries to understand and treat this disease more effectively. It will help us to develop and validate new tests for NASH, and to identify patients who will benefit most from new therapies. 

The project will also involve partners at the Universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow, NHS Scotland and Glasgow and Edinburgh’s MRC Molecular Pathology Nodes.

Watch this space to find out more about this pioneering project as it progresses.

By Professor Jonathan Fallowfield, Senior Clinical Research Fellow/Principal Investigator, MRC Centre for Inflammation Research at the University of Edinburgh (SteatoSITE Clinical Lead)


International NASH Day 2018

On International NASH Day 2018, we’re sharing some key facts about this silent epidemic which affects the livers of one in four Scots. Find out what we and our partners Eagle Genomics and the universities of Glasgow and Edinburgh are doing to find more effective tests and treatments for NASH at


1 in 8 adults may have non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH)


A new study has released new data which indicates that the prevalence of non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) among UK adults could be as high as 12%. NASH is a progressive form of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) which is now considered to be one of the major causes of cirrhosis of the liver.  Dame Sally Davies, UK Chief Medical Officer, has previously warned of the impact the growing prevalence of fatty liver disease will have on the nation’s health, and its impact on NHS resources.

The data, presented at The International Liver Congress in Paris, came from an analysis of UK Biobank, the world’s largest database of health information. Perspectum Diagnostics used  their LiverMultiScan technology to analyse quantitative MRI data from 2,895 UK Biobank participants to calculate the overall percentage of people in the database who are expected to have NASH. Their projected figure of 12% suggests the number of people with undiagnosed NASH could be significantly higher than the 2-3% previously estimated.

Currently most people with NASH are diagnosed using a liver biopsy. This only occurs when the disease has progressed and they are showing symptoms. Perspectum’s Multi-scan technology has the potential to enable doctors to diagnose this disease earlier using a less invasive test.