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Autoimmune liver diseases in NZ: Population-based epidemiology, genetics and therapeutics

36 months
Approved budget:
Dr Jeffrey Ngu
Health issue:
Proposal type:
Clinical Research Training Fellowship
Lay summary
Autoimmune hepatitis, primary biliary cirrhosis, and primary sclerosing cholangitis are progressive chronic autoimmune liver diseases that lead to cirrhosis and liver failure. Some 20% of liver transplantations are performed for these conditions. Although it is believed that there is an autoimmune basis to their pathogenesis, their precise aetiologies remain unknown. The scarcity of donor livers, the cost of transplantation as well as the associated morbidity and mortality, highlights an urgent need for us to better understand these diseases so we can substantially improve treatment strategies. Our preliminary epidemiological study has confirmed that these conditions are very common in Canterbury relative to other parts of the world and we estimated that about 2000 people in New Zealand are affected by these serious conditions. The objectives of this study are to a) investigate environmental and genetic factors that alter susceptibility, b) identify prognostic factors, and c) optimise immunosuppressant therapy for these diseases.