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ATLAS researchers discover new biomarker for NASH

ATLAS researchers have found that the protein TREM2 in blood is a plausible and accurate individual biomarker of NASH. Thus the new discovery has the potential to reduce the need for liver biopsy in the future

NAFLD affects approximately 24 % of the adult population worldwide. A condition that in itself can be relatively harmless, but for the patients who develop NASH can have serious consequences, as the condition can eventually lead to cirrhosis and liver cancer.

Early detection is important and would allow the application of targeted interventions to stop the progression of the disease. Currently, liver biopsy is the gold standard to diagnose NASH, but the procedure is invasive and comes with a risk of bleeding. A multitude of non-invasive blood biomarkers have been assessed for their diagnostic accuracy, but none have qualified for routine clinical use. Consequently, there has until now been an unmet clinical need for non-invasive biomarkers that can diagnose NASH.

However, this might change in the future after researchers in a new study have discovered the protein TREM2 as a non-invasive biomarker for NASH. Here they found that the protein can identify NASH with high diagnostic accuracy.

- It is certainly a new and promising biomarker for NASH that we can detect in a simple blood sample. The new discovery has the potential to contribute to fewer liver biopsies and earlier detection and thereby diagnosis of the patients, say Vineesh Chandran, postdoc, and Charlotte Wernberg, PhD student, both first authors on the study.

The study was conducted by ATLAS a Center of Excellence at the University of Southern Denmark, which is a collaboration between several research groups from i.e. University of Southern Denmark, Odense University Hospital and Hospital South West Jutland, University hospital of Southern Denmark and is funded by the Danish National Research Foundation.

The study is now published in Hepatology.

Link to the full text version can be found here

Correspondence may be directed to Associate Professor Jonas Graversen

Editing was completed: 07.07.2022