Often linked to other disorders such as overweight and obesity, the so-called fatty liver, or non-alcoholic steatohepatitis or NASH, is a very common disease in Italy: at least 20% of the Italians suffer from it. The main defendants, in addition to low physical activity and high-calorie diet, are also industrialized foods with high calorie and lipid content. However, a new drug has come to their rescue. Professor Alessio Aghemo, head of the General Medicine and Hepatology Unit in Humanitas, told Humanitas Salute.
A new drug to accompany weight loss against the fatty liver
“To date, those who suffer from fatty liver must intervene primarily on weight loss – explained Aghemo -: This is achieved both by increasing physical activity and by some changes in their diet”. Unfortunately, this type of measure leads to limited effects in time and often only temporary: for this reason it seems essential to support effective drug treatments for this disease. Among the new studies underway for this class of drugs, there have recently been positive data regarding treatments with obeticulic acid (OCA): “This is a drug already available on the market for primary biliary cholangitis (PBC) in prescribing centers such as Humanitas,” said Prof. Aghemo.
The studies in Humanitas
At Humanitas, the person responsible for the studies on this drug is Professor Ana LLeo de Nalda, of the General Medicine and Hepatology Unit. She will present the first results of the “Regenerate” study at the European Congress of Hepatology in Vienna in April. “The research involved 931 patients with NASH, with stage 2 or 3 fibrosis, were included in the study and randomized to treatment with 10 mg OCA, or 25 mg OCA or placebo,” explained the professor. “The interim analysis, after the first 18 months of treatment, showed a significant reduction in fibrosis in patients treated with OCA. “Obetic acid is regularly used in our Center for patients with primary biliary cholangitis who do not respond to the first line of therapy and has an excellent safety profile: it is taken orally and is well tolerated by patients – concluded the professor -. The results of the Regenerate study seem to suggest for the first time a treatment for patients with NASH.