A magnifying glass into liver disease led to the identification of key cells

10th October 2019

Guts UK funded research could lead to new treatments for liver disease.

Professor Henderson and colleagues at the University of Edinburgh have identified new sub-types of cells that, when they interact, accelerate the scarring process in diseased livers.

Long-term damage leads to scarring of the liver, which eventually causes liver failure. There are currently no treatments available to prevent or reverse this. 1 in 5 people in the UK are at risk of developing liver disease. It is predicted to become the most common cause of premature death in the UK. Liver disease can occur due to obesity, excessive alcohol, viral infections, autoimmune diseases or genetic disorders.

The Guts UK funded researchers at the University of Edinburgh used a new technology called ‘single cell RNA sequencing’ to study liver scarring in high definition.

The researchers discovered sub-types of three cells, and now have an in-depth understanding of how cells behave and talk to each other in diseased livers. More importantly, how they may block the activity between the cells as a future treatment for liver scarring. The researchers believe this will help in the development of new treatment for liver scarring.

Guts UK’s CEO, Julie Harrington

“Guts UK prioritises research into childhood gut and liver diseases and we were delighted to partner with the Children’s Liver Disease Foundation to co-fund this important research.

The results are exciting and will bring real hope to so many families facing devastating, life threatening liver conditions”

– Julie Harrington, Guts UK’s CEO

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