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A novel nanomedicine for liver disease

Dr Ali Kermanizadeh

University of Derby

Animals to be replaced: mice


3D in vitro pathophysiological model of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease – the spheroid contains primary human hepatocytes, Kupffer cells, stellate cells and sinusoidal endothelial cells

Liver disease affects around forty per cent of people across the world. The number of people dying from the disease has increased by four hundred per cent since 1970, and this is set to increase, with diets shifting towards more carbohydrate and fat and less fibre. Treating liver disease cost £17 billion in 2020, in the UK alone. Chronic inflammation often leads to a worsening of the disease, leading to cirrhosis (scarring) and liver cancer.

Nanomedicine is a relatively new medical approach and involves using materials at the nano scale (one-billionth of a meter). Drugs can be packaged as a ‘cargo’ and precisely targeted where needed, for example, the liver, meaning fewer side effects for people. Dr Ali Kermanizadeh, at the University of Derby, has developed a novel nanomedicine, loaded with a strong anti-inflammatory cocktail, to treat liver disease. The nanomedicine is designed to deliver the drug ‘cargo’ slowly and continuously, meaning fewer invasive injections for people.

Dr Kermanizadeh’s research team has already developed, in collaboration with the biotech InSphero, a range of liver models, composed of human cells where they can study various stages of liver disease. Using this model, he’ll now be testing how effectively the nanomedicine prevents and treats liver disease.

Cargo loaded 200 nm porous protein nano-crystals

This human relevant approach using nanomedicines could pave the way for the larger scale development of a highly effective drug, with minimal side effects, for the billions of people across the globe affected by debilitating liver diseases. It would also end the suffering of millions of animals by providing an alternative, more human-relevant way of drug development and testing as well as toxicity screening (how chemicals or drugs affect the liver or other organs).