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Research News Updates and Blogs

Update – A study into liver fibrosis and cirrhosis

Investigation of myofibroblast alpha-v integrins as an anti-fibrotic target in biliary atresia

Principal Investigator: Professor Neil Henderson 

Institution: University of Edinburgh

We are delighted to provide an update on a study into liver fibrosis and cirrhosis. The study was funded by Children’s Liver Disease Foundation, the Wellcome Trust, Medical Research Council, Guts UK, AbbVie pharmaceuticals, Tenovus Scotland, British Heart Foundation, and NIHR.

Biliary atresia can cause inflammation and destruction of children’s bile ducts and lead to biliary fibrosis (scarring of the liver). When biliary fibrosis becomes severe, the liver begins to fail and the only treatment for end-stage liver scarring is transplantation. This study investigated cells that cause liver scarring. Experts hope that by understanding how these cells behave, new treatments can be developed more quickly for liver diseases.

Scientists from the University of Edinburgh used a new technology called single cell RNA sequencing to study liver scarring in high definition. They identified new sub-types of cells that, when they interact, accelerate the scarring process in diseased livers.

They discovered sub-types of three key cells:

  1. White blood cells called macrophages
  2. Endothelial cells which line blood vessels
  3. Scar-forming cells known as myofibroblasts

The discovery of these new sub-types of cell involved in human liver scarring is vital in the fight against liver disease. An understanding of how cells behave in diseased livers allows scientists to investigate how their activity can be blocked and discover a new treatment for liver scarring for patients.

CLDF are delighted to be able to support this study and to learn of these exciting findings.

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