Since its inception, Visikol has worked diligently to develop assays, in both 2D and 3D modalities, to explore complex cell processes and disease states. A key area of interest here at Visikol is in nonalocholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and more specifically the inflammatory liver disease, nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, or NASH.
NAFLD affects 30-40% of adults in the United States and is characterized by the accumulation of fats within the liver. NASH is a progression of NAFLD, involving inflammation, cellular injury and eventually deposition of fibrotic tissue within the liver. Continued inflammation and cell injury can lead to large-scale replacement of healthy tissue with non-functional scar tissue, eventually giving rise to cirrhosis and possibly hepatocellular carcinoma.
How does this progression occur and how can we model it? Both NAFLD and NASH are considered to be reversible conditions, but once too much fibrotic tissue is deposited, and cell death occurs there is no going back. This is why targeting NAFLD, and NASH especially, is important. These are strategic stages that could lead to pausing or reversal of the disease state, meaning fewer people developing cirrhosis and fewer liver transplants would be needed overall. Currently there are few cell culture models capable of imitating the in vitro liver. A key factor in modeling NASH is understanding the interplay between various cell types and working to accurately mimic this in an in vitro model.