[Cite as http://purl.org/au-research/grants/nhmrc/402493]
Prof Christopher Liddle
Dr Michael Downes
Dr Roslyn London
Brief description Chronic liver disease is a major cause of death and ill health on a word-wide scale. Several common liver diseases, such as hepatitis B, hepatitis C and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (fatty liver disease not due to alcohol), are capable of causing protracted liver damage. Irrespective of the cause of injury, the liver has a very narrow way of responding to chronic damage. The most important and insidious of these is hepatic fibrosis (scarring), which, along with liver regeneration, eventually leads to cirrhosis if the injurious process is sufficiently intense and sustained. Liver cirrhosis is the precursor to several undesirable complications of liver disease, most notably primary liver cancer (also called hepatoma), liver failure and severe bleeding from the gut. Therefore, it is not surprising that effective strategies to control liver injury and prevent cirrhosis have been called the holy grail of liver research. To date the only therapies for substantially improving the outcome of patients with chronic liver disease are those that halt or remove the cause of injury. Unfortunately, in many cases it is still not possible to remove or effectively treat the cause of injury. Because of this there is intense interest in therapies that might favourably alter the response of the liver to injury and especially in those that may retard or inhibit scarring and prevent cirrhosis. Nuclear receptors are sensors that control many aspects of the body's metabolism, especially the metabolism of cholesterol and fat. Recently, our work and that of others has suggested that some nuclear receptors may play a vital role in how the liver responds to damage and whether the liver will the scar and move on to cirrhosis. Our experiments will determine if this is so, and which of the several nuclear receptors likely to be involved are the important ones. We will then extend these studies to see if drugs that activate these receptors will improve or prevent severe liver disease.
Funding Amount $AUD 443,520.54
Funding Scheme NHMRC Project Grants
Standard Project Grant