Innovation in the treatment with a new active ingredient: Heilpraxis

New active ingredient against inflammation of the fatty liver

There are currently no drugs for the targeted treatment of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) or for the treatment of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. inflammation of the fatty liver (NASH). But researchers are now reporting one new active ingredientwho is a fatty hepatitis proven to be very effective and well tolerated.

Researchers in Mainz helped develop a new type of drug that could be used to effectively treat inflammation of the non-alcoholic fatty liver: modified omega-3 fatty acid icosabutate. The active ingredient prevented inflammation and scarring of the liver. Research, published in the Journal of Hepatology, points to a breakthrough in the treatment of this condition.

No therapy established to date

According to a current report from the Johannes Gutenberg University Medical Center in Mainz, more and more people in industrialized countries suffer from metabolic diseases such as adiposity (obesity), disturbed lipid metabolism or type 2 diabetes mellitus.

Many of these patients develop fatty liver disease, known as nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFL). In this country alone, about 30 percent of the population has an NAFL. This does not cause any problems.

However, about one in six patients with NAFL develops inflammation of the fatty liver, known as nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). So far there is no established therapy and no approved drugs for non-alcoholic fatty liver inflammation.

Possible serious complications

When the inflammation of the fatty liver becomes chronic, it leads to liver fibrosis. The collagen connective tissue in the liver increases and the organ scarring. Complications of fibrosis caused by NASH can be liver cirrhosis (shrunken liver), liver failure, and hepatocellular carcinoma.

Previous treatment of NAFL and NASH is initially aimed at modifying the affected people’s diet and prescribing more physical activity. Among other things, this is aimed at achieving weight reduction. This can improve NASH.

As with the treatment of obesity, however, weight loss is often inadequate for most patients with NASH. Drug therapy is not currently available.

Researchers are working on a number of active ingredients, but their approval often failed due to insufficient efficacy or because they resulted in unwanted side effects.

Completely new substance class

“Together with Northsea Therapeutics, we have developed a potential drug against NASH and extensively tested it in vitro and in vivo for its effectiveness: the structurally modified omega-3 fatty acid icosabutate.”, explains Univ.-Prof. Dr Dr Detlef Schuppan, Director of the Institute of Translational Immunology at University Medical Center Mainz.

“This is a completely new class of substances. The icosabutate improved both liver inflammation and liver fibrosis. In a first study with patients at high risk of NASH, one daily capsule of our active ingredient icosabutato very convincingly and rapidly normalized the elevated blood values ​​of liver inflammation and hepatic fibrosis. “says the researcher.

“Based on these promising results, a Phase 2b clinical trial (” ICON “) has been initiated in the United States in which patients with severe NASH and liver fibrosis are treated with icosabutus for a period of one year. Here, the success of the therapy is evaluated at the beginning and at the end by means of a liver biopsy “.according to the scientist.

Important omega-3 fatty acids

According to information, the development of the new drug is based on known substances in fish oil, omega-3 fatty acids. In addition to the positive effect on the cardiovascular system, these fatty acids are also involved in several processes that can regulate inflammation and fibrosis of the liver.

This served as a starting point for the search for a drug that could be used to treat chronic liver inflammation. The challenge of making an effective NASH drug from omega-3 fatty acids is that omega-3 fatty acids are needed almost everywhere in the body for overall energy metabolism.

The liver also uses these fatty acids to generate energy and build its cells. As a result, omega-3 fatty acids are rapidly consumed by the body. Therefore, they no longer have sufficient potential to inhibit liver inflammation.

According to experts, the high doses of omega-3 fatty acids required for clinical efficacy are poorly tolerated and have unwanted side effects.

“With our substance icosabutate, we have modified the structure of the omega-3 fatty acid so that this active ingredient cannot be incorporated into the liver cells or used as ‘fuel’. So there is enough unused icosabutal fatty acid in the liver to dampen inflammation and fibrosis. “explains Professor Schuppan.

According to the expert, modified omega-3 fatty acid icosabutate is 50 times stronger than natural omega-3 fatty acid. Researchers are optimistic that the active ingredient that has now been developed will lead to the first effective therapy with clear benefits for many NASH sufferers. (A.D)

Information on the author and source

This text corresponds to the specifications of the specialist medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been verified by medical professionals.


  • University Medicine of the Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz: Researchers of the University of Medicine of Mainz are developing an active ingredient against fatty hepatitis, (accessed: 03.05.2022), University Medicine of the Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz
  • Fraser DA, Wang X., Lund J., Nikolić N., Iruarrizaga-Lejaretta M., Skjaeret T., Alonso C., Kastelein JJP, Rustan AC, Kim YO, Schuppan D .: A structurally engineered, icosabutated fatty acid, suppresses liver inflammation and fibrosis in NASH; in: Journal of Hepatology, (veröffentlicht online: 13.12.2021 und in Volume 76, Issue 4, P800-811: 01.04.2022), Journal of Hepatology

Important note:
This article contains general advice only and is not to be used for self-diagnosis or treatment. It cannot replace a visit to the doctor.

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