New compound that reverses datty liver disease discovered

Scientists from the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have developed the first synthetic compound that can reverse the effects of a serious metabolic condition known as fatty liver disease. True to its name, the disease involves an abnormal buildup of fat in the liver.

The compound - known as SR9238 - is the first to effectively suppress lipid or fat production in the liver, eliminating inflammation and reversing fat accumulation in animal models of fatty liver disease.

The new compound also significantly lowered total cholesterol levels, although precisely how that occurred remains something of a mystery.

''We've been working on a pair of natural proteins called LXRa and LXR that stimulate fat production in the liver, and we thought our compound might be able to successfully suppress this process,'' said Thomas Burris, a professor at TSRI who led the study, which was recently published in an online edition of the journal ACS Chemical Biology.

''Once the animals were put on the drug, we were able to reverse the disease after a single month with no adverse side effects - while they ate a high-fat diet.''

Fatty liver, which often accompanies obesity and type 2 diabetes, frequently leads to more serious conditions including cirrhosis and liver cancer. The condition affects some 10 to 24 percent of the general population, according to a 2003 study in GUT, an international journal of gastroenterology and hepatology.