According to a study, a newly created amino acid molecule successfully heals non-alcoholic fatty liver disease in non-human primates, putting researchers one step closer to developing the first treatment for the disorder, which is spreading quickly around the world.

To treat the severe form of fatty liver disease known as nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, researchers at Michigan Medicine created DT-109, a glycine-based tripeptide. The condition, more often known as NASH, causes liver inflammation and scarring and is thought to affect up to 6.5% of the world\’s population.

According to the results, DT-109 reduced liver scarring in both mice and primates with NASH and reversed fat accumulation. Published in Cell Metabolism, the work was carried out in collaboration with a global team that included the Laboratory Animal Center at Xi\’an Jiaotong University Health Science Center and the Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences at Peking University Health Science Center.

According to Eugene Chen, M.D., Ph.D., senior author of the study and Frederick G. L. Huetwell Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at University of Michigan Medical School, \”scientists have been trying to develop a medication that treats NASH for years, but many attempts have failed to show an improvement or have raised safety concerns in clinical trials.\” \”NASH is growing at an alarming rate, and the success of our drug candidate, DT-109, in treating non-human primates brings us closer than ever to treating the millions of people who suffer from this condition.\”

According to Eugene Chen, M.D., Ph.D., senior author of the study and Frederick G. L. Huetwell Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at University of Michigan Medical School, \”scientists have been trying to develop a medication that treats NASH for years, but many attempts have failed to show an improvement or have raised safety concerns in clinical trials.\” \”NASH is growing at an alarming rate, and the success of our drug candidate, DT-109, in treating non-human primates brings us closer than ever to treating the millions of people who suffer from this condition.\”

Though hundreds of drugs, including DT-109, have successfully treated NASH in mice, Chen claims that the limitations of mouse NASH models are due to the fact that not all elements of the human disease are accurately mimicked and are thus difficult to translate to the clinic. One of the first to achieve the feat is the study team\’s non-human primate model for NASH, which was validated utilising multiomics profiling experiments.

Researchers from the worldwide team discovered that administering DT-109 to non-human primates and mice reverses fat accumulation and stops the advancement of fibrosis by promoting fatty acid breakdown and antioxidant production. Additionally, the medication prevented the synthesis of lithocholic acid, a dangerous secondary bile acid that is closely associated with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.

As a result of this important development in preclinical models, Jifeng Zhang, Ph.D., co-corresponding author and research associate professor of cardiovascular medicine at Michigan Medicine, said, \”We can now consider evaluating DT-109 as a potential drug candidate for the treatment of NASH in future clinical trials.\” The need for an efficient treatment is greater than ever, as NASH affects millions of people.

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