Novo Nordisk and the University of Birmingham have announced a partnership to discover new treatments for people suffering from non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

The University has joined forces with the pharma giant in a collaboration supported by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Birmingham Biomedical Research Centre, to identify new disease mechanisms and potential targets for treatment of the disease.

“It is estimated that up to a quarter of the adult population worldwide has a condition called non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, which occurs due to the build-up of fat in the liver and it is commonly seen in patients who are overweight or diabetic,” explained Professor Philip Newsome, director of the University of Birmingham's Centre for Liver and Gastrointestinal Research.

He continued, “What is concerning is that the incidence of fatty liver disease is rapidly increasing world-wide as we are becoming a more sedentary society consuming diets which are high in fat and sugar.

“Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease now therefore presents an enormous challenge for healthcare providers which is made worse due to the lack of approved and effective treatments.

“This exciting new partnership will see us working together with Novo Nordisk to harness our cutting edge translational research facilities and in vitro models to identify new disease mechanisms and potential targets for treatment.”

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease ranges in severity and can cause liver inflammation, which can lead to liver failure, an increase risk of cancer and death. Many patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease also have an increased risk of suffering from cardiovascular disease.