Liver fibrosis, leading ultimately to cirrhosis, is a serious consequence of excessive alcohol consumption and has assumed major importance as a potential treatment target for the millions of patients infected with hepatitis C.
Dr. Scott Friedman was the first to isolate and characterize the hepatic stellate cell, which is the key cell type responsible for scar production in liver. This work has led to major advances in our understanding of how the liver responds to injury and points the way towards new treatments.
Dr. Friedman and Dr. Meena Bansal, have developed a comprehensive program exploring the cellular and molecular basis of liver fibrosis, which has spawned parallel efforts in dozens of laboratories and pharmaceutical companies throughout the world.
In addition to continuing an in-depth exploration of molecular mechanisms of hepatic fibrosis, Dr. Friedman’s current work is moving increasingly into the clinical realm with the testing of novel diagnostic agents and therapies for hepatic fibrosis. Much of the current excitement about the potential benefits of anti-fibrotic therapy in these important liver diseases can be traced to Dr. Friedman's contributions.
Recently, Natalia Nieto, Ph.D., has joined the faculty. She is leading NIH-funded studies exploring mechanisms of alcoholic liver injury and fibrosis. Dr. Nieto’s interests closely complement the aims of the Fibrosis program, and involve exploration of cell-cell interactions and analysis of molecular mechanisms underlying oxidant-stress induced fibrogenesis in cell culture and animal models of alcoholic liver disease.