TGen's Johnna Distefano

TGen, Arizona State University collaborate to treat fatty liver disease in Latino youth through NIDDK grant

TGen's Johnna Distefano

TGen, Arizona State University collaborate to treat fatty liver disease in Latino youth through NIDDK grant

Arizona State University’s Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation, Phoenix Children’s Hospital and the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) announced yesterday they will partner on a new study along with Cincinnati Children’s focused on nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, or NAFLD, in Latino youth.

The study was made possible through a five-year, R01 grant of $3.9 million from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, or NIDDK, which is part of the National Institutes of Health, according to a story from ASU News.

ASU’s Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation, TGen, NIDDK and Phoenix Children’s Hospital all have a presence on the Phoenix Bioscience Core.

“This study will give us a better idea why some kids get liver disease and others don’t,” said Professor Gabriel Shaibi, director of ASU’s Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention and co-principal investigator for the study. “We will also explore how changes in liver fat storage after clinical intervention may alter molecular markers of the disease. In the future, these findings could help doctors to develop better methods to diagnose and treat fatty liver disease in kids.” 

Preliminary data forming the foundation for this study revealed protein signatures in extracellular vesicles that appeared specific to fatty liver; and following a lifestyle intervention, these signatures began to resemble those observed in children without fatty liver disease.

Each member of the multidisciplinary team will have a distinct role in the study.

ASU will provide samples and data from Latino youth with obesity and mild liver disease before and after intervention. Phoenix Children’s will provide samples and data from Latino youth with advanced liver disease, while Cincinnati Children’s will provide samples and data from Caucasian and African American youth with advanced liver disease who underwent bariatric surgery and whose liver disease was subsequently resolved. TGen will perform all of the molecular, proteomic and statistical analyses on those samples, converting them from raw data to actionable information and investigating the mechanisms by which these NAFLD-associated factors contribute to the development and progression of disease.