EU project LITMUS (2017-2022): Ground-breaking €34 million project to develop better test for liver disease
A pioneering European research project aims to lead to new diagnostic tests to assess patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and identify those most at risk for developing severe inflammation and liver scarring.
Liver Investigation: Testing Marker Utility in Steatohepatitis (LITMUS) funded by the European Innovative Medicines Initiative 2 Joint Undertaking, brings together clinicians and scientists from prominent academic centres across Europe with companies from the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA). Their common goals are developing, validating and qualifying better biomarkers for testing NAFLD.
The €34 million project is co-ordinated by Newcastle University, working closely with the lead EFPIA partner, Pfizer Ltd. LITMUS will include 47 international research partners based at leading international universities and some of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies. University of Helsinki (professor Yki-Järvinen) is a member of the steering committee of LITMUS and primarily participates in WP5 developing imaging tools for NAFLD. This project has received funding from the Innovative Medicines Initiative 2 Joint Undertaking under grant agreement No 777377. This Joint Undertaking receives support from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme and EFPIA.
Elucidating Pathways of Non-Alcoholic Steatohepatitis (EPoS) is a 48 month project funded by the European Commission within the Horizon 2020 Framework Programme. The project started 2015 and will run until April 30, 2019.
The specific aims and objectives of the EPoS project are to:
- Generate high quality data defining the pathophysiology of NAFLD using a multi-‘omics’ approach: Using samples and data from established histologically characterised patient cohorts, we will select individuals across the spectrum of NAFLD severity to form the ‘core’ EPoS Cohort. Large scale genetic, epigenetic, transcriptomic, metagenomic and metabolomic profiles will be analysed from members of this cohort.
- Develop a multi-dimensional pathophysiological profile across the spectrum of NAFLD using a systems medicine platform: The complex ‘omic’ datasets will be integrated across the spectrum of NAFLD and factors that associate with and/or predict disease progression identified.
- Validate these findings and identify translatable mechanisms: Specifically, we will study the effects of diet and environment on liver tissue, hepatocyte fat content, glucose/insulin tolerance, lipid homeostasis, proteomic/lipidomic signatures and the microbiome using in vitro systems and in vivo models of NAFLD. Expected outcomes include improved understanding of pathogenesis and first-stage validation of potential clinical biomarkers.
- Validate findings against clinical outcomes: Findings will be subsequently validated against clinically relevant outcome measures through the longitudinal follow-up of recruited patients (and assessment of samples from additional prospectively recruited cases) to determine utility as biomarkers.
Measure health trends & clinical practice determinants: To inform future care pathway development so that new diagnostics/biomarkers and treatments from EPoS may be exploited and effectively delivered in the clinic we will assess the impact of NAFLD in European hepatological hospital medicine (including patterns of practice, clinical investigation strategies and determinants of disease severity) in cases presenting to outpatients with subsequent modelling of healthcare costs.