An atlas unraveling the biology of the human liver on a single cell level

Towards the discovery of new therapeutic targets for chronic liver disease and cancer

Due to increasing unhealthy life style world-wide, chronic liver disease and cancer are on the rise.

Liver cancer is a leading cause of cancer death world-wide. Therapeutic options are unsatisfactory for metabolic liver disease (NASH), fibrosis and cancer. One reason is the limited knowledge on the details of the liver biology and the evolution of the different cell types in health and disease.

To address this gap, Professor Thomas Baumert, MD, head of the Inserm Institute for Viral and Liver Diseases (Inserm U1110) and hepatologist at the Hospital University Institute (IHU) and the Strasbourg University Hospitals teamed up with research group leader Dr. Dominic Grϋn, PhD from the Max-Planck-Institute for Immunobiology and Epigenetics in Freiburg. Using liver tissues from patients of the Strasbourg University Hospitals, their teams dissected the liver on a single cell level and built a liver cell atlas with unprecedented insights into the composition and biology of the human liver. This atlas will serve as starting point to uncover urgently needed preventive and therapeutic targets for chronic liver diseases and cancer.

A major breakthrough whose results are now published in Nature on July 10, 2019.

Copyright © Université de Strasbourg / Inserm / Springer Nature

Professor Baumert explains: “Given the new opportunities offered by this approach, we are convinced that this atlas will help us to improve ultimately the outcomes of our patients by the identification of novel therapeutic concepts and strategies”.

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