In a study published tomorrow (1 August) in the Journal of Thrombosis and Haemostasis, researchers show that warfarin reduces the scarring on the liver caused by Hepatitis C. This scarring, or fibrosis, replaces normal liver cells and can lead to cirrhosis of the liver and ultimately liver failure.
Following the new findings in mouse models, the Imperial College London researchers are now embarking on a clinical trial of warfarin as a treatment for people with Hepatitis C, funded by the Medical Research Council (MRC).
There are an estimated 300,000 people in the UK with chronic Hepatitis C. The disease progresses much more quickly in some patients than in others and around one in five of those infected will develop cirrhosis.
Treatment to clear the infection is currently effective in only around 50 percent of patients and can have considerable unpleasant side effects such as fatigue, nausea and depression. If this treatment fails, there are no currently effective therapies to slow the progression of fibrosis.
The new research looks at how warfarin affects the progression of fibrosis in mice with chronic liver injury. Warfarin is already used to prevent and treat blood clots in people with artificial heart valves, deep vein thrombosis, and a host of other conditions.
A previous study by the same researchers demonstrated that in Hepatitis C, scarring of the liver accelerates in those patients who are prone to form blood clots. This led the researchers to believe that warfarin’s anti-clotting properties might enable the drug to fight the disease.
The new study showed that treatment with warfarin significantly reduces the progression of fibrosis in normal mice with chronic liver injury. It also shows that warfarin reduces the progression of fibrosis in mice with chronic liver injury and a genetic mutation known as Factor V Leiden (FVL), which causes fibrosis to progress at a much faster rate than usual because it amplifies the body’s clotting mechanisms.
Professor Mark Thursz, one of the authors of the study from the Division of Medicine at Imperial College London, said: “At the moment there are a great many people with Hepatitis C who have no treatment options left and it would transform their lives if we could prevent them from developing liver failure. We are looking forward to seeing the results of our upcoming trial in humans now that we’ve had such promising results in the trial in mice.”
Dr Quentin Anstee, an MRC Clinical Research Fellow and the corresponding author of the study from Imperial College London, added: “If we have positive results from the new trial, we will have a potential treatment that is already available and very cheap, and which should be safe enough for people to take. If we are successful in Hepatitis C patients, we are hopeful that such treatment might benefit people with liver damage from other causes, and this is something we would be keen to study further.”
The researchers are recruiting 90 patients for the new trial who have undergone a liver transplant as a result of liver failure caused by hepatitis C. A third of such patients progress very rapidly to fibrosis following transplantation.
The researchers hope that treating these patients with warfarin will prevent this liver damage and improve their prognosis. Transplant patients have a liver biopsy every year following transplantation to assess their progress, and the researchers will analyse data from this biopsy to establish the effectiveness of the warfarin treatment. The two-year trial will take place across five centres including Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, which has integrated with Imperial College London to form the UK’s first Academic Health Science Centre.
The trial is taking place in transplant patients because the researchers estimate that it would take 10-15 years to conduct a trial in patients in whom the disease was progressing at a normal rate.
Laura Gallagher | alfa
New model connects respiratory droplet physics with spread of Covid-19
21.07.2020 | University of California - San Diego
Risk of infection with COVID-19 from singing: First results of aerosol study with the Bavarian Radio Chorus
03.07.2020 | Klinikum der Universität München
Scientists at the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT have come up with a striking new addition to contact stamping technologies in the ERDF research project ScanCut. In collaboration with industry partners from North Rhine-Westphalia, the Aachen-based team of researchers developed a hybrid manufacturing process for the laser cutting of thin-walled metal strips. This new process makes it possible to fabricate even the tiniest details of contact parts in an eco-friendly, high-precision and efficient manner.
Plug connectors are tiny and, at first glance, unremarkable – yet modern vehicles would be unable to function without them. Several thousand plug connectors...
An international research team has found a new approach that may be able to reduce bone loss in osteoporosis and maintain bone health.
Osteoporosis is the most common age-related bone disease which affects hundreds of millions of individuals worldwide. It is estimated that one in three women...
Traditional single-cell sequencing methods help to reveal insights about cellular differences and functions - but they do this with static snapshots only...
“Core-shell” clusters pave the way for new efficient nanomaterials that make catalysts, magnetic and laser sensors or measuring devices for detecting electromagnetic radiation more efficient.
Whether in innovative high-tech materials, more powerful computer chips, pharmaceuticals or in the field of renewable energies, nanoparticles – smallest...
An international research team with Prof. Cornelia Denz from the Institute of Applied Physics at the University of Münster develop for the first time light fields using caustics that do not change during propagation. With the new method, the physicists cleverly exploit light structures that can be seen in rainbows or when light is transmitted through drinking glasses.
Modern applications as high resolution microsopy or micro- or nanoscale material processing require customized laser beams that do not change during...
23.07.2020 | Event News
21.07.2020 | Event News
07.07.2020 | Event News
06.08.2020 | Earth Sciences
06.08.2020 | Power and Electrical Engineering
06.08.2020 | Life Sciences