Towards the Virtual Liver

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Drug-induced liver injury (DILI) is the most frequent cause of acute liver failure in the US and a major obstacle in the development of new medicines. It is therefore not surprising that prediction of liver toxicity is of considerable interest to healthcare professionals and drug companies alike.

Now The Hamner Institutes for Health Sciences and Entelos, Inc. have announced a partnership to create a computer model of liver function in virtual patients to improve understanding of how drugs can sometimes damage the liver.

The partnership supports the FDA’s Critical Path Initiative, which aims to reduce the time taken to develop and approve safe and effective medicines, and two FDA scientists will join the scientific advisory board for the project.

liverEntelos will use its clinically validated PhysioLab biosimulation platform to build a mathematical model of liver function using information from a variety of sources, incorporating The Hamner’s expertise in liver injury and systems biology. Additional important information will be supplied through Hamner research programs employing novel liver-derived cell models and special metabolism studies made possible by a new Hamner metabolomics laboratory. The objective of the collaboration is to develop a virtual liver that will account for the effects of genetic variations and other factors, such as patient sex, age, behavioural characteristics and environmental influences. In parallel, virtual rodents will be developed that will provide an improved means by which to evaluate preclinical drug effects and mechanisms of liver injury across species.

If successful, the platform will have many potential uses, including guiding the development of new diagnostic tests and new ways to test drug safety in the laboratory.

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