People suffering from liver disease may soon be able to acquire a new drug through their international private medical insurance policies following positive animal tests.
Research published in the journal Hepatology found that a new NADPH Oxidase (NOX) inhibitor therapy could help to reverse liver fibrosis.
This illness can result in the organ failing to function and is related to chronic liver disease, with some of the key factors that can lead to this condition including alcoholism and viral hepatitis B.
Most chronic liver diseases are related to progressive fibrosis, which is caused by inadequate wound healing pathways and the loss of cells in the organ.
Furthermore, aberrant tissue repair can be caused through oxidative stresses, which results from the clearance and production of reactive oxidase species (ROS) molecules being inadequately balanced.
When a liver is injured, myofibroblasts are created, which heal wounds and moderate the body's inflammation response by encouraging the immune cells called macrophages to go to the site of the injury.
NOX is involved in the intracellular signalling pathways required for this process and eventually, the healing can result in the liver becoming overly scarred and eventually failing to function.
Principal investigator of the study Dr David Brenner, who is also vice chancellor for Health Sciences and dean of the School of Medicine at the University of California, pointed out a number of studies have already shown that it is possible to reverse advanced liver fibrosis in rodent models and in patients.
However, effective therapies are not yet available, he added.
"This new study provides important validation of the role of NOX in liver fibrosis and suggests that a NOX inhibitor could provide an effective treatment for this devastating disease," the specialist continued.
Inhibiting NOX in mouse models with GKT137831 – a drug developed by Genkyotex SA of Geneva – was found to suppress ROS and the expression of NOX and fibrotic genes.
Chief development officer at Genkyotex and contributor to the study Patrick Page said: "These data highlight the excellent pharmacological properties of GKT137831 and the broad potential for its use in fibrotic diseases."
The next step for this research project is to test the medicine in people with liver fibrosis through a clinical trial.