Scientists at the University are working with the European pharmaceutical industry to find new ways of assessing whether drugs are likely to cause liver damage in humans.
The £29 million initiative, funded by the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) and the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA), is a five-year programme led by the University’s Medical Research Council (MRC) Centre for Drug Safety Science.† It is aimed at developing new tests that will help researchers to predict drug-induced liver injury (DILI).
The condition is a leading cause of acute liver failure and transplantation in western countries, as well as a major reason for the termination of drug development in clinical trials and refusal of market approval.
Current pre-clinical drug tests are successful at predicting some types of DILI, but detecting the risk of serious and rare cases of DILI in humans that are susceptible to it, has proved significantly more difficult.† These problems are often not detected until a drug is already on the market.
Liverpool scientists are leading new research in partnership with AstraZeneca, which includes collaborations with eight academic institutions, six small and medium enterprises (SMEs), and 10 other pharmaceutical companies across Europe.† The consortium are working to improve the tools used to test for liver toxicity during drug development and further understanding of the reasons behind drug-induced liver injury.
David Willetts, Minister for Universities and Science, said: “Innovative partnerships between the research base and industry are vital to the success of the life sciences sector. This initiative is a great example of Europe-wide collaboration between leading universities and companies. It will develop potentially life-saving new tests, bringing benefits for patients and encouraging the development of safer treatments.”