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Liver research

The internationally-recognised clinical trials carried out by Newcastle Hospitals’ hepatologists aim to prolong life and improve the quality of life for patients with liver disease.

Project successes

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease

The work of the Liver Research Group includes establishing a new way to diagnose a type of liver disease that is on the increase in the Western world.

Liver researchOne in four people in the developed world suffers from non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), which is associated with obesity. NAFLD causes scarring on the liver in its early stages, and cirrhosis, liver failure and cancer at advanced stages.

New non-invasive test

Previously, the only accurate way to determine the amount of scarring was a liver biopsy – an expensive, invasive and sometimes painful test. By working with Newcastle University and other colleagues across the world, a team led by Professor Chris Day established a non-invasive alternative to liver the biopsy.

The new diagnostic test helps 75% of patients avoid a biopsy, and could save the NHS £2million every year.

Gene mutation

Another major breakthrough involving the Liver Research Group was its contribution to the discovery of a mutation in the genes of people who drink excessive alcohol.

The research by a consortium of five universities including Newcastle, demonstrated how mice with a mutation in a certain gene, overwhelmingly preferred to drink alcohol over water.

The discovery could offer real potential to guide the development of better treatments for alcoholism in the future.

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