Newcastle University researchers analysed a small clinical trial of losartan, a drug normally prescribed for hypertension, on 14 patients in Spain, who had Hepatitis C.
The illness was at an advanced stage causing fibrosis - scarring in the liver - which would usually have progressed to liver failure.
Half of the patients in the trial saw the scars in their liver shrink allowing the organ to repair itself.
Professor Derek Mann from Newcastle University said: "At the moment we have no proven effective way of treating people with chronic liver disease other than transplantation. This early stage trial has shown that we can shrink liver scarring in some patients and shows promise for a treatment that could make a huge difference to the lives of thousands of people."
The team whose work is published today in Gastroenterology, say this early stage trial is promising and they now want to carry out several much larger studies initially involving patients with liver disease caused by obesity and then later alcohol, hereditary and autoimmune diseases.
Liver damage, known as fibrosis, is caused by the unwanted accumulation of excess fibrous connective tissue which is produced and maintained by a specialised cell, the liver myofibroblast.
In chronic liver disease a signalling pathway is created that instructs the liver myofibroblast to stay alive and proliferate. It is this pathway that then causes scar tissue to accumulate, creating the liver damage.
Work carried out in rat and mouse models allowed the researchers to study what was happening inside the liver when losartan, an angiotensin II receptor antagonist drug, was present.
Researchers believe that the drug blocks the signalling pathway so that the liver myofibroblasts die, removing the source of scar tissue. As the scar tissue breaks up, the damaged area of the liver is repaired by the body.
In this research, funded by the Medical Research Council and the British Liver Trust, the Newcastle University researchers discovered a biological marker, NF-kB, was crucial for the activities of scar-forming cells.
Tests on their livers revealed that, before treatment with losartan, half of the patients had a high level of the biomarker NF-kB. After treatment, the level fell indicating that losartan is able to switch off NF-kB with the result that scars are no longer produced or maintained, but instead shrink.
Professor Mann said: "By measuring the amount of active NF-kB in the liver from a biopsy sample, we may be able to tell which patients will benefit from treatment with losartan or similar drugs such as ACE inhibitors. This may prove to be a new treatment for up to half of all liver patients."
The trial was carried out with patients at the Liver Unit, Institut Clinic de Malalties Digestives i Mataboliques, Hospital Clinic, Insitut d'Investigacions Biomediques August Pi i Sunyer, Barcelona, Spain.
People with liver disease caused by being overweight – though fatty liver disease or NASH (Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis) – and who are interested in taking part in a future clinical trial should leave their details on tel: 0191 2231900
Paper: Angiotensin II activates IkB kinase phosphorylation of Re1A at Ser536 to promote myofibroblast survival and liver fibrosis
Authors: Fiona Oakley, Victoria Teoh, Gemma Ching-A-Sue, Ramon Bataller, Jordi Colmenero, Julie R Jonsson, Aristides G Eliopoulos, Martha R Watson, Derek Manas, Derek A Mann.
Karen Bidewell | EurekAlert!
Further reports about: > ACE inhibitors > NF-kB > angiotensin II receptor > antagonist drug > autoimmune disease > biological marker > blood-pressure drug > early stage > fibrosis > liver > liver damage > liver disease > liver failure > liver myofibroblast > mouse model > scar-forming cells > shrink liver scarring
Team discovers how bacteria exploit a chink in the body's armor
20.01.2017 | University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Rabies viruses reveal wiring in transparent brains
19.01.2017 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn
An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...
Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...
Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.
While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...
Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales
Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...
Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.
As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...
19.01.2017 | Event News
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
20.01.2017 | Awards Funding
20.01.2017 | Materials Sciences
20.01.2017 | Life Sciences