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March 15, 2009 (Vol. 29, No. 6)

Honing In On Fatty Liver Disease Treatment

Galmed Medical Research Bets on Aramchol to Treat NAFLD and Steatohepatitis

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    FABACs normalize fat deposition in the liver of hamsters fed a high-fat diet.

    In early January 2008, the National Center for Health Statistics released updated cardiovascular disease (CVD) mortality statistics based on data through 2005, the most recent year accurately completed.

    Though death rates from CVD declined 24.7% from 1994–2004, and actual deaths declined 8% within that same time frame, fully 80,700,000 people in the U.S. still suffer from one or more forms of CVD. And coronary heart disease, the claimed single leading cause of death in the U.S. today, caused 451,326 deaths in 2004 alone.

    While those were U.S. statistics, cardiovascular disease is clearly an enormous worldwide health issue and is associated with many other lipid-related diseases, one of which is fatty liver disease.

    According to Galmed Medical Research, at present, no established medicines exist to treat either fatty liver disease (FLD) or gallstones. That set of circumstances is something that the company—and in particular Itzchak Angel, Ph.D., vp, business development, and Tuvia Gilat, M.D., CEO—is working to rectify.

    Within the field, there is an increasing awareness of FLD, and more studies are demonstrating its link to cardiovascular and metabolic disorders. The industry is looking for effective drugs for gallstones and FLD, and for a  patented therapy following statins, says Dr. Gilat. Galmed Medical Research claims to be well positioned in this regard because the company’s expertise is in liver diseases in general, and FLDs in particular.

    The company, established in September  2000, develops drugs for the treatment of chronic lipid-related diseases, and has created a series of fatty acid bile acid conjugates (FABACs) that selectively affect several pathways in lipid metabolism, as demonstrated in several species in vivo and in human cells and tissues in vitro. The FABACs, conjugates of cholic acid with long-chain fatty acids using a solid bond that is not broken down during absorption, are taken up intact and are only minimally metabolized in the body, explains Dr. Gilat.

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