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Centenary Institute - Medical Research
Centenary Institute - Medical Research

Alcoholic Liver Disease

The Alcoholic Liver Disease research program includes studies on genetics of alcoholic cirrhosis and molecular mechanisms underlying liver disease. By identifying biomarkers for alcohol use and liver injury, we utilise transcriptomics, lipid and miRNA profiling to find treatment targets and pathways.

Alcoholic liver disease has the highest mortality amongst all alcohol related disorders and needs further research. There is no effective treatment for this debilitating hidden epidemic. The overall goal of this research is to understand the mechanisms of how alcohol injures the liver and identify potential genetic/non-genetic bio-markers for therapy and diagnosis. Dr Seth’s research program addresses the following clinical and fundamental issues for better understanding of this disease leading to improved patient care.

Why do only some drinkers get cirrhosis while others who drink similar levels do not? To answer one of the big questions in this field Dr Seth leads a NIH/NIAAA (USA) funded multinational GenomALC Consortium. The focus of the consortium is to explore genome wide genetic and epigenetic factors that predispose some drinkers to and protect others from developing ALD. This program has created one of the largest biobank and clinical database of thousands of heavy chronic drinkers with great potential for future studies.

Establishing blood biomarkers of alcohol consumption and alcoholic liver disease. Current markers for alcohol consumption and self-report are sub-optimal and unreliable. Seth and her team have established tests using UHPLC-MS/MS (Clinical Pathology, RPAH) for measuring direct metabolites of alcohol (PEth, EtG and EtS) as serum biomarkers for alcohol consumption. Development of and access to these tests will significantly improve the screening and monitoring of alcohol use in individuals with alcohol-related problems, such as addiction, pre- and post-liver transplant, alcohol dependence treatment and in other non-clinical settings (social services, workplace, prison, driving, judicial, forensics, court disputes).

Understanding the cellular/molecular mechanisms of alcohol-induced liver injury and liver regeneration. (i) Seth laboratory has established in vitro and in vivo models of alcohol and alcohol plus high fat diet to study mechanisms of liver injury. In particular, role of Osteopontin (first reported in ALD by Seth) in fibrogenesis. (ii) The group has identified rare circulating endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) altered with alcohol in human and mice that may have a role in angiogenesis mediated liver regeneration during injury. (iii) Another large international project is to identify microRNAs (miRNAs) as novel diagnostic markers in liver and kidney toxicity due to prescription drugs (e.g. paracetamol) and poisoning (e.g. pesticides, snakebite).

Clinical Associate Professor Devanshi Seth, Head of Laboratory

Phone: 02 9565 6268 | 02 9515 7201
Email: d.seth@sydney.edu.au

  • Principal Scientist, Drug Health Services, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital
  • Principal Scientist and Associate Faculty, Centenary Institute
  • Clinical Associate Professor, Clinical Medicine & Addiction Medicine, University of Sydney (USYD)

Dr Seth has a wide spectrum of expertise in molecular/cellular biology, genetics, clinical, cancer research, industrial biotechnology and corporate management.

Dr Seth directs a unique Research Program in Australia addressing the gaps in understanding Alcohol-induced Liver Disease. She established this research program as a response to this often neglected but a significant and much needed area of human health. She is an internationally known leader in the alcohol/liver field, she leads the NIH/NIAAA-funded study on genetics of alcoholic liver cirrhosis (ALC) using genome/exome sequencing.

Dr Seth is the founder and leader of the multinational GenomALC Consortium at the forefront of research in this field. Under her leadership, GenomALC has established the world’s largest database and bio-bank of thousands of chronic heavy drinkers, a signficant resource for current and future research in the field of alcohol/liver research.

Recently elected as Treasurer of the Research Society on Alcoholism (RSoA), a unique association in the world on alcohol research. Dr Seth is also an Executive member of the University of Sydney Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC 1). Dr Seth is also on the Research Executive Committee at the Drug Health, RPAH. She is the lead investigator on a UK Biobank project with access to UK Biobank one of the largest database of genetic and clinical information on 500,000 patients.

Learn more about her Research Laboratory.

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