First International NASH Day is a Call to Action
Published: Jun 12, 2018 By Alex Keown
The prevalence of nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is increasing across the globe and is expected to be the leading indication for liver transplants by 2020. Despite that, awareness of the disease is somewhat low.
To rectify that, today marks the first International NASH Day, with hopes of raising awareness of the disease and pave the way for better care of NASH patients. This morning the non-profit NASH Education Program said a day devoted to NASH will help alert people who are at risk of the disease and help them adjust their lifestyles to potentially combat the situation. There are currently no specific treatments aside from weight loss, increased physical activity and avoiding alcohol and unnecessary medications.
A severe form of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), NASH is increasing in part due to the rise of obesity and diabetes diagnoses. Excessive accumulation of fat in the liver induces chronic inflammation, which causes progressive fibrosis, cirrhosis and eventually end-stage liver disease. In the United States NASH affects 2 to 5 percent of people.
“Individuals at risk need to be made aware of the threat, so that they become well aware of the importance of health monitoring and pay more attention to their lifestyles, in order to prevent the disease from appearing. NASH patients need a voice, for their fight against the disease to be broadly recognized. These patients typically lack easy-to-digest information, and face several stigmas associated with liver disease in general or NASH and cirrhosis in particular,” the NASH Education Program said in a statement.
While the non-profit organization is hoping to raise broad awareness for the disease, pharma and biotech companies have been attempting to develop treatments for the disease – although nothing yet has been approved. The NASH market is pegged to hit $25 billion by 2026 and companies are flooding the developmental pipeline with potential treatments. There are nearly 200 treatments in the pipeline of companies. Multiple companies are focused on the development of Nash drugs, including startup company Terns Pharmaceuticals, which licensed three NASH programs from Eli Lilly. Companies like AstraZeneca, Takeda Pharmaceuticals, Allergan and Gilead Sciences have all invested heavily into the space.
Last week Madrigal Pharmaceuticals revealed positive topline data from its Phase II clinical trial of MGL-3196. Trial results showed statistically significant reduction of liver fat on magnetic resonance imaging-estimated proton density fat fraction (MRI-PDFF) at 36 weeks.
With the launch of the NASH Day, there are multiple online educational platforms that have been made available to educate the public about the disease, who is at risk and patient care.