Liver medicine is a leading area of research for University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust (UHB) and the University of Birmingham, thanks to the combination of world class facilities and close collaboration between the two institutions.
- Click here for more information on clinical services offered by UHB’s liver unit
- Click here for a list of UHB liver medicine consultants
UHB’s liver medicine and transplant programme is one of the largest in Europe, and the university is home to the Centre for Liver Research and the recently renewed NIHR Biomedical Research Unit. This helps the development of translational liver themed research.
- Click here for more information about the Centre for Liver Research
- Click here for more information about the NIHR Biomedical Research Unit
The Centre for Liver Research benefits from being in the School of Infection and Immunity at the University, and works alongside investigators based in the Medical Research Council Centre for Immune Regulation, the Centre for Virology and Institute of Microbiology and Infection.
Additional strengths of the programme are the University of Birmingham Stem Cell Centre and the Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Facility.
- Click here for more information about the Stem Cell Centre
- Click here for more information about the Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Facility
The research programme spans both laboratory and clinical research, and includes fundamental scientific studies of disease mechanisms alongside clinical trials of new therapies, including stem cell therapy.
We have an active training programme for both clinical and non-clinical scientists and a strong track record in the award of national fellowships at research fellow and clinician scientist level to both surgeons and physicians.
Our staff are both clinicians and scientists, and work alongside a team of research fellows, post-doctoral fellows, PhD students and established technical and administrative staff.
Our broad areas of research are:
- Immune mediated liver disease, including autoimmune liver diseaseAutoimmune liver diseases are a group of diseases of the liver that occur when the body's immune system attacks cells in the liver. Examples include primary biliary cirrhosis, primary sclerosing cholangitis and autoimmune hepatitis.
- Viral liver diseaseViral infections are globally a very common cause of liver disease, with hundreds of millions of people worldwide infected with viruses such as Hepatitis B or C. When infected the liver cells become the target of the immune system which can lead to liver damage.
- Cell therapyCell therapy describes the process of introducing new cells into a tissue in order to treat a disease. Cell therapies can focus on the treatment of hereditary diseases, with or without the addition of gene therapy, as well as on regenerative medicine, wherein scarred tissue is encouraged to heal.
- Metabolic liver diseaseMetabolic liver disease refers to a group of diseases in which the body’s processes malfunction, causing damage to the liver. The group includes Wilson’s disease, alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency and hemochromatosis, for example.
- Hepatocellular carcinomaHepatocellular carcinoma is an increasingly common liver cancer. Primary liver cancer is usually a result of cirrhosis (from any cause) whilst secondary liver cancer is often the result of cancer spreading from the bowel for example.
- Portal hypertension and vascular liver diseasePortal hypertension is high blood pressure in the portal venous system, which carries blood from the stomach and intestines to the liver. This blood is rich in nutrients, and the liver processes these nutrients. Portal hypertension can result in ascites (fluid retention), encephalopathy (confusion) and varices (veins that can bleed).
- Transplantation outcomesLiver transplant enables surgeons to remove a damaged or malfunctioning liver and replace it with part or all of a healthy liver. The healthy liver may come from a deceased donor, although in some cases a small part of a healthy liver can be removed from a living donor..
- AmyloidosisAmyloidosis is a potentially life-threatening condition which can occur because of some cancers. An amyloid is an abnormal protein which enters organs or tissues. When enough amyloid proteins are present in an organ to interfere with its functioning and cause symptoms, it becomes a condition called amyloidosis.
- Clinical and transplant hepatology
Among the current research activity are the following trials:
- New therapies for Hepatitis C
- Novel agents for the treatment of primary biliary cirrhosis and primary sclerosing cholangitis
- New agents for the management of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
- Click here for more information on research in liver medicine at UHB, including opportunities for collaborative work