'Gene silencing' may improve treatment of a deadly complication of liver disease

May 27, 2009

A technique that “silences,” or turns off, genes shows promise as a potential new treatment for liver fibrosis — the disease that leads to cirrhosis — scientists in Tennessee are reporting. Their study is scheduled for the June 1 issue of ACS’ Molecular Pharmaceutics. Cirrhosis is the 12th leading cause of death in the United States.

Ram Mahato and colleagues note that fibrosis involves build-up of scar tissue in the liver from chronic caused by hepatitis, , toxins, or other factors. Advanced fibrosis can lead to cirrhosis, a condition in which the liver becomes so severely damaged that patients may require a transplant. There is no effective treatment, and patients urgently need new medications. Scientists believe one may emerge from the fascinating discovery that a protein called TGF-beta 1 triggers liver inflammation and that blocking the protein may help.

The researchers designed 10 chemically synthesized substances, termed siRNAs, with the ability to block or “silence” the TGF-beta 1 gene in the liver. When put into rat liver cells, the “gene silencers" decreased levels of type 1 collagen whose excessive production leads to fibrosis, as well as two other substances known to trigger liver inflammation, by almost 50 percent. The results suggest that gene silencing may be “an efficient and more specific approach for therapy of liver fibrosis,” the report states.

More information: Molecular Pharmaceutics, Journal Article: “TGF-#1 Gene Silencing for Treating

Provided by American Chemical Society (news : web)

Explore further: A refined approach to proteins at low resolution

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Toxic bile damages the liver

Oct 24, 2008

Researchers at the Heidelberg University Hospital have discovered a new genetic disease that can lead to severe liver damage. Because a protective component of the bile is missing, the liver cells are exposed to the toxic ...

Noninvasive ways to assess liver disease

Feb 02, 2008

Two new studies examine non-invasive ways to determine liver fibrosis and cirrhosis. An enhanced version of the Original European Liver Fibrosis panel was found to have good diagnostic accuracy for fibrosis in patients with ...

Recommended for you

A refined approach to proteins at low resolution

Sep 19, 2014

Membrane proteins and large protein complexes are notoriously difficult to study with X-ray crystallography, not least because they are often very difficult, if not impossible, to crystallize, but also because ...

Base-pairing protects DNA from UV damage

Sep 19, 2014

Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich researchers have discovered a further function of the base-pairing that holds the two strands of the DNA double helix together: it plays a crucial role in protecting ...

User comments : 0