Chinese Scientists Uncover Potential New Strategy to Treat Fatty Liver Disease
The healthcare system in China. Photo: Xinhua.
Chinese researchers have developed a ‘detour’ treatment strategy that may help relieve fatty liver symptoms in the future, Xinhua News Agency reported.
The two back-to-back papers published in the journal Science Translational Medicine reported a new molecular mechanism correlated with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NASH), a common chronic liver disease that can lead to liver cancer.
An enzyme in the human body called ACC is known to facilitate fat synthesis in liver cells. Previously, scientists tried to design an ACC inhibitor, but it showed an adverse effect of increasing blood fats, according to the study.
Scientists from Wuhan University, led by medical professor Li Hongliang, took a step back and found that expression of a gene named ALOX12 increases the level of ACC.
In another paper, the research team described a small molecule that can deactivate the ALOX12 protein in mouse and non-human primate models and then delay the release of the ACC enzyme.
The study found that treatment with the chemical effectively slowed disease progression in animals and did not cause excessive lipid levels.
Zhang Xiaojing, co-author of two papers, told Xinhua that the results provide proof of concept for using a new class of molecules as next-generation drugs for the treatment of NASH.