Scientists find better way to treat chronic liver disease

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Liver disease is a major health problem that affects millions of people worldwide. It can lead to severe conditions like cirrhosis, liver cancer, and even liver failure if not addressed in time.

Scientists have been continuously researching to find better ways to understand and treat this condition.

Recently, a significant discovery was made by the researchers at QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute that could change the way we approach the treatment of liver disease.

The discovery revolves around a protein called ferritin. Normally, ferritin works in our bodies to store iron inside our cells. However, the scientists found that when there’s too much ferritin, it can lead to serious inflammation in the liver.

This inflammation is a key factor in causing liver damage, and it has been a known issue in people suffering from chronic liver disease.

Professor Grant Ramm, who leads the Hepatic Fibrosis Laboratory at the institute, explained that while it was already known that high levels of ferritin were linked with inflammation, their research showed that ferritin is more than just a marker of trouble.

It actively worsens the condition by causing more inflammation. This happens when ferritin interacts with specific cells in the liver known as hepatic stellate cells.

When ferritin binds to these cells, it triggers them to release powerful inflammatory chemicals, which leads to increased scarring, or fibrosis, in the liver.

This scarring is problematic because it can build up over time, making the liver stiff and unable to function properly. If this process isn’t stopped or slowed down, it can progress to more serious stages of liver disease.

With the understanding of how ferritin contributes to liver inflammation, researchers can now look for new ways to stop it.

The goal is to develop treatments that can block the interaction between ferritin and the liver cells. By doing so, it might be possible to prevent the inflammation and scarring from getting worse.

Professor Ramm mentioned that their team is using advanced techniques to study the exact parts of ferritin that interact with the liver cells. By mapping these parts, they hope to find a way to block the harmful effects of ferritin without disrupting its normal, healthy functions in iron storage.

This discovery not only sheds light on the underlying mechanisms of liver disease but also opens the door to potentially new therapies that could benefit people with both inherited and acquired forms of liver disease.

Looking forward, the research team is focused on developing these new treatments. They hope that their work will lead to significant advancements in preventing the progression of chronic liver disease, ultimately improving the lives of millions of people around the globe.

This breakthrough highlights the importance of basic research in understanding diseases better and finding new ways to tackle them.

The findings from the QIMR Berghofer team are a promising step forward in the fight against liver disease, offering hope that future treatments might be able to control or even reverse the damage caused by this challenging condition.

If you care about liver health, please read studies about a diet that can treat fatty liver disease and obesity, and coffee drinkers may halve their risk of liver cancer.

For more information about liver health, please see recent studies that anti-inflammatory diet could help prevent fatty liver disease, and results showing vitamin D could help prevent non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

The research findings can be found in Science Signaling.

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