Supported by the European Union with 34 million euro as part of the European Innovative Medicines Initiative, the LITMUS (Liver Investigation: Testing Marker Utility in Steatohepatitis) project brings together clinicians and scientists to develop new non-invasive diagnostic tests to assess patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).
The LITMUS project will run for 5 years, involving over 90 academic centers and companies across Europe and the US, and is coordinated by the University of Newcastle, in collaboration with Pfizer Ltd.
"Resoundant looks forward to participating in this ground-breaking, multi-stakeholder project to help address one medicine’s greatest challenges of the next decade and beyond," said Richard Ehman, Mayo Clinic Radiologist and CEO of Resoundant.
NAFLD, which affects 20 - 30% of the population worldwide and is strongly linked to obesity and Type 2 diabetes, is caused by an accumulation of fat in the liver cells and can lead to inflammation, liver tissue fibrosis and cirrhosis.
As an official partner, Resoundant will provide access to advanced MRE acquisition and analysis software that is not yet commercially available for all LITMUS MRE sites, including a version of Advanced Multiparametric 3D MRE that is being developed specifically to address the unique needs and challenges of clinical trial sponsors. Resoundant will also support LITMUS with technological expertise and training support for both MRE hardware and software applications.
MRE is already well validated, widely available and recognized in existing clinical guidelines for assessment of patients with suspected liver disease. In clinical trials, MRE also provides biomarkers that serve as objective endpoints in multiple contexts of use. "Resoundant looks forward to assisting the work of dedicated clinical scientists, industry partners and national health systems working collaboratively towards a treatment for NAFLD/NASH," added Dr. Ehman.
“Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is already the most common underlying cause of liver transplant in the USA and, with the obesity epidemic in Europe, we are very close behind”, said Professor Quentin Anstee, from Newcastle University’s Institute of Cellular Medicine.
The new diagnostic tests that will be developed for NAFLD will be used to identify the patients who are most at risk for developing chronic hepatitis with severe liver inflammation and fibrosis, before the disease progresses to liver cirrhosis or cancer.
“LITMUS will unite clinicians and academic experts from centres across Europe with scientists from the leading pharmaceutical companies, all working together to develop and validate new highly-accurate blood tests and imaging techniques that can diagnose the severity of liver disease, predict how each patient’s disease will progress and monitor those changes, better or worse, as they occur”, added Professor Anstee.