Paul Hockings´ Antaros partner in ground-breaking European project concerning biomarkers for liver disease

LITMUS, a pioneering 34 million Euro research collaboration to develop new and non-invasive biomarkers for better diagnoses of patients with the liver condition NAFLD was recently being launched. The aim is also to support the development of more effective medical treatments. Antaros Medical, where the MedTech West and Chalmers Adjunct Professor Paul Hockings is director of imaging, is one of the partners and is responsible for advanced imaging including elastography and diffusion methodologies across nine European centers.

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) affects 20-30% of the population worldwide. It is caused by build-up of fat in the liver cells and can lead to inflammation, scarring of the liver and ultimately to cirrhosis. In some people, NAFLD turns into a more serious condition called non-alcoholic

steatohepatitis (NASH), raising the risk of cirrhosis and liver cancer. A challenge for doctors is identifying which NAFLD patients will go on to develop NASH and, for those with NASH, predicting how fast the disease will progress. LITMUS aims to deliver simple biological markers (e.g. from blood tests or imaging) that could be used to diagnose NASH and predict which patients will rapidly develop more serious liver disease.

LITMUS is a 34 million Euro project funded by the European Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) 2 Joint Undertaking. It is coordinated by Newcastle University and includes 47 international research partners, leading academic scientists as well as some of the world’s largest pharma companies. As one of the partners, Antaros Medical is responsible for advanced imaging including magnetic resonance elastography (MRE) and diffusion  that will be carried out in nine European centers. MRE obtains information about the stiffness of tissue by assessing the propagation of mechanical waves through the tissue with a special magnetic resonance imaging technique. Diffusion is a way of measuring inflammation in the liver.

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) occurs when fat builds up in the liver. In some people, NAFLD turns into a more serious condition called non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), raising the risk of cirrhosis and liver cancer. NAFLD is quite common, affecting some 30% of the population, and a challenge for doctors is identifying which NAFLD patients will go on to develop NASH and, for those with NASH, predicting how fast the disease will progress. LITMUS aims to deliver simple biological markers (e.g. from blood tests or imaging) that could be used to diagnose NASH and predict which patients will rapidly develop more serious liver disease. It should also support non-invasive biomarkers with high reproducibility for drug development for treatment of NASH.

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