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Approved Research

Improving liver health in humans: Elucidating the role of genetics, biomarkers, and environment in liver biology, etiology, progression, and prognosis

Principal Investigator: Dr Xuehong Zhang
Approved Research ID: 87303
Approval date: August 25th 2022

Lay summary

Liver disease outcomes such as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, long-lasting injury or scarred tissue in the liver (cirrhosis), and liver cancer are increasing in Western countries. Previous studies reported a few potential risk factors, but their associations with different stages of liver disease remains to be fully characterized. Additionally, to what extent these factors, such as genes, clinical factors, lifestyle, diet, sleep, as well as their interactions impact the continuum of liver disease development, progression, and prognosis remains largely unknown. Hence, we propose to leverage the UK Biobank to 1) determine the genetic and non-genetic landscape of liver diseases, especially liver cancer; 2) identify factors influencing liver disease initiation, progression, and prognosis; 3) elucidate potential mechanisms by studying gene and environment interactions; and 4) develop prediction models contributing to risk stratification, early detection, and precision prevention.

We hope to answer these questions in a rolling 3-year period. Results may facilitate further investigations on biological pathways leading to liver outcomes. This comprehensive research will help define new effective approaches to liver disease and liver cancer prevention, early detection, and diagnosis.