£30M clinical study will use single-cell RNA sequencing to enhance the understanding of NASH cirrhosis

Unraveling the Secrets of NASH Cirrhosis: The ADVANCE Study

In the pursuit of advancing medical knowledge and transforming patient care, the collaborative efforts of Newcastle University, the University of Edinburgh, and the global biopharmaceutical leader Boehringer Ingelheim have converged in a groundbreaking study – the ADVANCE (Accelerating Discovery: Actionable NASH Cirrhosis Endpoints) study. This £30M initiative is poised to become the most detailed observational study of its kind, enrolling the largest cohort of patients to provide an in-depth analysis of liver health.

Understanding the Global Impact of NASH/MASLD

Approximately 444 million people worldwide are estimated to live with nonalcoholic or metabolic dysfunction-associated steatohepatitis (NASH/MASLD), an inflammatory liver disease caused by the accumulation of fat in the liver. Over time, NASH can lead to the formation of scar tissue, often resulting in liver cirrhosis and serious complications such as liver failure or cancer. Currently, there are no approved medicines for cirrhosis, highlighting the urgent need for earlier diagnosis and innovative therapies.

Boehringer Ingelheim’s commitment to improving the lives of individuals grappling with cardiovascular, renal, and metabolic diseases (CRM) is exemplified in their £30M investment in the ADVANCE study. Led by researchers at Newcastle University and the University of Edinburgh, alongside collaborators across Europe, this study aims not only to enhance our understanding of NASH cirrhosis but also to identify translational biomarkers that can expedite the development of future therapies.

The Significance of RNA Sequencing in the ADVANCE Study

At the heart of the ADVANCE study lies the transformative power of RNA sequencing. Professor Neil Henderson, co-lead on the study and Professor of Tissue Repair and Regeneration at the University of Edinburgh, emphasized the pivotal role of single-cell RNA sequencing in their research. This cutting-edge technology allows scientists to study human liver scarring in high definition for the first time, providing a nuanced understanding of the underlying disease processes.

By analyzing changes in gene expression in liver tissue with advanced scientific techniques, the study aims to unravel the fundamental disease processes driving cirrhosis. Professor Quentin Anstee, Coordinator of the global study and Professor of Experimental Hepatology at Newcastle University, expressed the intent to determine why there is substantial variation in disease progression among individuals, ranging from remaining well for many years to rapidly experiencing liver failure or developing liver cancer.

The Research Methodology: A Comprehensive Approach

The ADVANCE study involves 200 patients with cirrhosis recruited from specialist liver clinics across the UK and Europe. Participants will undergo liver biopsies, blood tests, and state-of-the-art MRI scans at regular intervals over two years. This comprehensive data collection will enable researchers to track how disease-related changes evolve in the body as cirrhosis progresses.

The international research consortium, led by Newcastle University and Edinburgh University, collaborates closely with scientists at Boehringer Ingelheim and includes specialists from universities and hospitals across Europe. The inclusion of cutting-edge technologies like single-cell RNA sequencing and state-of-the-art imaging reflects the commitment to pushing the boundaries of scientific understanding in liver disease.

The Future Impact: Advancing Diagnosis and Treatment

The ADVANCE study holds the promise of not only advancing our comprehension of NASH cirrhosis but also paving the way for earlier diagnosis and innovative treatments. As Professor Anstee noted, the goal is to use the knowledge gained from this study to improve patient diagnosis and aid in the development of new medicines, addressing a critical gap in the current medical landscape.

In the words of Lykke Hinsch Gylvin, M.D., Chief Medical Officer at Boehringer Ingelheim, “We are very excited to work with our partners in the ADVANCE study to better understand the underlying disease processes and to bring much-needed new treatments to patients with liver cirrhosis.” The collaborative efforts of academia and industry showcased in the ADVANCE study exemplify the power of interdisciplinary research in addressing pressing global health challenges.

In conclusion, the ADVANCE study stands as a beacon of hope in the fight against NASH cirrhosis, propelled by cutting-edge technologies and the collective determination of researchers, clinicians, and industry leaders. As this study unfolds, it has the potential to unlock new insights into liver disease, leading to improved patient outcomes and transforming the landscape of cirrhosis diagnosis and treatment.

SourceNewcastle University

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