discoveries magazine

Potential Liver-Saver

Potential therapy for alcohol-associated liver disease.

Alcohol-related liver disease is on the rise—especially among younger adults—and the pandemic has only exacerbated the trend.

Each year, nearly 100,000 people across the country die from excessive alcohol use, with alcoholic hepatitis a frequent cause. Recently, Cedars-Sinai investigators and their collaborators discovered a potential therapy for the condition that has shown considerable promise in mouse models. The team found that oral administration of a synthetic compound, called 1Z1,  stimulates the body to produce a naturally occurring protein, interleukin-22, which shields the liver from injury.

"Interleukin-22 can help protect the body against invading pathogens, repair damage caused by intestinal or liver disease and potentially prevent development of alcohol-associated liver disease," explains Ekihiro Seki, MD, PhD, director of Basic Liver Research at Cedars-Sinai and senior author of the study.

The mice had no side effects from 1Z1, and that’s an advantage over the current standard treatment—corticosteroids—which reduce inflammation but often cause adverse reactions. Although Seki says further clinical study is needed to confirm the benefits of 1Z1, treatments for alcoholic hepatitis are urgently needed.