Liver disease results from damage to the liver. Causes of liver disease stem from diseases like Hepatitis, Type 2 Diabetes, genetic or hereditary factors and autoimmunity.
We are presently looking at those genes in the liver that cause scarring and, separately, at the mechanisms of inflammation as a cause of liver disease.
Group Leader: Dr Nick Shackel
We aim to understand the causes of liver disease through studying how liver disease develops, particularly the development of inflammation and scar tissue within the liver, and the eventual development of liver cancer.
We hope to develop novel diagnostic and prognostic tests to help us individualise and personalise the management of liver disease.
We are working to understand to understand the role of the main cell within the liver, the hepatocyte, and its role in the formation of scar tissue and eventual cirrhosis following injury. This injury response is common to many types of liver disease and eventually leads to liver cancer.
Our research has focused in particular on a molecule EMMPRIN that we discovered using functional genomics technologies to be instrumental in the formation of liver scar tissue, cirrhosis and liver cancer.
Secondly, we are looking at the function of stem cells originating from the bone marrow in response to liver injury. In particular, investigating if stem cells have both a role in which they contribute to liver injury as well as having a beneficial task. Our research has a focus on the possible involvement of bone marrow derived stem cells in the development of liver cancer.
Also, we are utilising functional genomics technologies to understand the development of liver injury with the eventual aim of developing new diagnostic and prognostic tests. This technology enables us to examine the whole human genome of over 25 thousand genes in a single experiment and we have pioneered
the use of gene arrays and the use of CD antibody arrays in understanding liver disease.
Hepatitis C infects up to 300 million people worldwide. We are looking at how the hepatitis infects the liver; specifically at the genes in the liver that the hepatitis virus seems to be switching on, that cause scarring of the liver and lead to untreatable liver disease.
As a clinician and a scientist, I am able, with the help and consent of Hep C patients, to compare the expression of genes in tissue samples from people with early and late stage disease, with no liver damage and advanced liver damage, to see what genes identify different groups of patients. Ultimately we will identify a single gene that is pivotal – a check-point that influences or alters the whole system.
The key to understanding the causes of liver disease is studying how it develops through inflammation & the development of scar tissue. Give your support today!