Jun 15, 2017 11:51 AM EDT
Liver diseases are caused by the fatty build up in the liver leading to a range of ailments from fibrosis, cirrhosis to liver cancer. Researchers identified the mechanism that causes these ailments as the fats being stored by older cells in the liver. People can still develop a fatty liver despite an alcohol-free lifestyle. The condition hits one in five people in the UK; the group reverses the buildup process in lab mice and would soon be treating people with this approach.
The team from Newcastle University Institute for Ageing, the UK with researchers from the Mayo Clinic and the Erasmus Medical Center in the Netherlands approach the condition with pharmacological and genetic methods to get rid of the old cells storing the fatty deposits. The researchers identified the mechanism as the old cells they name as "senescent cells" which are the targets for extermination. Killing off these cells from lab mice reduce the fatty cell build up and restores the liver to its normal state.
The international researchers published their report in the journal Nature Communications stating that the old cells store the fatty acids due to the damage of its mitochondria, the cellular batteries of cells. The cells could no longer use up the fats to fuel the mitochondria thereby stocking them up in excess affecting the liver that develops into an ailment, reports Medical Xpress.
Leading the research team is Dr. Diana Jurk from the Newcastle University Institute for Ageing. She says that "this is the first time using this approach and the impact of this method could save a lot of patients from this life threatening disease. The lab mice trials are a success and she says that they are hoping to do clinical treatments on humans as well.
With researchers identifying the mechanism and extermination of the senescent cells, the team uses two separate treatments. First by using an engineered mouse with the capacity to get rid of the senescent cells and the other by the combination of a modified mouse with medication of the drugs Dasatinib and Quercetin, specifically killing the senescent cells. Both trials were successful in reducing fatty deposits and restoring the mice's livers to normal, reports EurekAlert.
The study gets its funds from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Center (BBSRC) and Newcastle University Institute of Ageing. The team is now formulating procedures for applications in human medical treatment.
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