David Martínez Selva
New predictive biomarker for the development and progression of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
David Martínez Selva
Fundació Hospital Universitari Vall d’Hebron Institut de Recerca (VHIR), Barcelona, Spain
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is one of the most common liver diseases in the world. It is caused by excessive fat accumulation in the liver and is exacerbated by factors like obesity and diabetes. It is known as the "silent killer disease" because its progression is very gradual and most patients with the disease do not experience symptoms and therefore remain unaware of their condition. Around 25 % of patients develop non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, characterised by liver inflammation and fibrosis, which can lead to pathologies such as liver cirrhosis or cancer. It is estimated that by 2023 this disease will become the main reason for liver transplantation globally.
There are still no approved drugs available to treat non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. One of the main reasons for this is the lack of non-invasive clinical biomarkers, which poses a significant challenge for the development of new medications. While certain molecules have been identified as potential biomarkers, biopsy remains one of the most routine diagnostic techniques. Its main disadvantages include its invasive nature and the variability of the technique. This highlights the urgent need for non-invasive biomarkers that facilitate both the diagnosis and monitoring of disease progression and the therapeutic efficacy of treatments under development.
In previous studies with an animal model, the team has identified two proteins which, when combined with a mathematical algorithm, can be used as a non-invasive biomarker to predict the onset and progression of various stages of the disease, including the most severe ones, such as steatohepatitis. The project aims to advance in the validation of this new biomarker, which could offer an alternative to liver biopsy. It will help identify individuals suffering from the disease and predict its progression, which will have important implications for improving their quality of life. It will also facilitate the development of new drugs to treat these conditions.
New Biomarker for NAFLD and NASH Development and Progression