Liver disease death rates are rising in the UK, in contrast to other common diseases such as heart disease and cancer, and the new Robert Hesketh Hepatology Clinical Research Facility aims to provide care and develop new therapies to reverse this trend.
It is named after the late Robert Hesketh, who helped to raise funding for the unit along with Lord and Lady Alexander Hesketh, Lord and Lady Normanby, Mr Abdalla Saleh and many other benefactors.
The unit will accommodate fifty researchers, doctors and nurses from Imperial College London and Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, working together to help liver patients.
In addition to providing the best possible care for thousands of patients, staff at the unit aim to better understand liver disease. All of the patients will be offered the opportunity to take part in the unit’s clinical research programmes and some will be able to enrol in its clinical trials. These will address the four main causes of liver disease – alcohol, fatty liver disease and chronic hepatitis B and C – as well as liver cell and bile duct cancers.
Blood, liver and DNA samples taken from patients as part of routine care will be used to develop ways of predicting which patients will develop the severe complications of liver disease.
Researchers at the unit will wage a war on liver disease on a number of fronts. They will examine why some people are genetically predisposed to alcoholism, a condition which is responsible for 70% of chronic liver disease.
They will also be looking at the genetic reasons why some people are more susceptible to fatty liver disease than others, and why some of these people will progress from fatty liver disease to hepatitis and cirrhosis. In addition, they will be exploring how factors such as alcohol and diet can exacerbate viral liver disease.
One of the many clinical trials at the unit will investigate whether treating patients who have hepatitis C with warfarin can reduce the scarring in the liver after liver transplantation when hepatitis C has recurred and causes rapid disease progression. The new protease and polymerase inhibitors active against hepatitis C are also being evaluated.
Another trial will assess the effectiveness of treatment using MRI guided lasers and focused ultrasound for tackling liver cancers.
Professor Howard Thomas, the director of the new facility from the Division of Medicine at Imperial College London, said: “Liver Disease is rapidly increasing, particularly in the young and middle aged. Tragically, patients can live with liver problems for several decades with no symptoms, not knowing that they are unwell until they reach the end stages of cirrhosis and liver cancer.
"It is even more tragic when one knows that at these early stages the problem could have been stopped either by advice on life style or curative antiviral therapies. We need to focus our research, clinical facilities and most importantly the NHS on the importance of screening patients for the early stages of liver disease, when interventions can return the liver to normal,” added Professor Thomas.
The Hesketh Hepatology Clinical Research Facility is part of the UK’s first Academic Health Science Centre (AHSC), a unique partnership between Imperial College London and Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust. The AHSC aims to bring the benefits of research to patients much more quickly than ever before.
The new research facility is adjacent to the Liver and Antiviral Unit at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, located in Paddington at St Mary’s hospital. It is made up of four new outpatient rooms and four day case beds for investigations and clinical trials.
Professor Thomas said: “Having the clinical and research facilities together, with NHS and university staff working side by side, means we will be able to achieve the goal of our AHSC - seeing the research we carry out rapidly benefitting patients.”
Laura Gallagher | alfa
A promising target for kidney fibrosis
21.04.2017 | Brigham and Women's Hospital
Stem cell transplants: activating signal paths may protect from graft-versus-host disease
20.04.2017 | Technische Universität München
More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.
Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...
Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.
"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...
The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.
Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...
The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...
Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.
Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...
20.04.2017 | Event News
18.04.2017 | Event News
03.04.2017 | Event News
25.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
25.04.2017 | Materials Sciences
25.04.2017 | Life Sciences