The consortium agreement for the RHU PreciNASH project, labelled RHU in 2016 as part of the Investments for the Future initiative, was signed in September 2017. It aims to rapidly to put on the market treatments for NASH, a liver disease currently on the rise.
Fighting NASH: a challenge of global proportions in the field of health care
Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (or “NASH” – also called also called “fatty liver disease”) is rapidly becoming the leading cause of liver transplants. It is caused by on an accumulation of fat in the liver, accompanied by the inflammation and degeneration of liver cells. Five per cent of patients suffering from this disease eventually develop liver cancer, with a poor prognosis for survival. Diagnosis of NASH via biopsy is a difficult, invasive process, and it is not known how prevalent it is: it is estimated that at 1% of the population of France suffers from it. At the same time, it is becoming increasingly widespread across the globe, correlating with the pandemic of diabetes and obesity. There is currently no treatment available on the market.
The RHU PreciNASH Project
The PreciNASH Hospital-University Health Research Project, approved in 2016 as part of the Investments for the Future initiative, brings together several players in the health sector in Lille, including the hospital, the university, Lille’s academic research laboratories and Sanofi R&D, an industrial player. Its aim is to speed up research into this highly prevalent disease, particularly in the Hauts-de-France region. This label makes it possible to finance 30% of a total estimated budget of 18 million euros.
Based on direct access to an exceptional number of liver and serum samples available at the University of Lille Hospital and from the ABOS (the Biological Atlas of Severe Obesity) cohort of more than 1000 patients, this project will result in a clinical study with proof of concept which will enable Sanofi to rapidly develop new treatments. Based on the expertise of several laboratories – the European Genomic Institute for Diabetes (EGID), the EA2694 research group (Public Health: epidemiology and quality of care), LIRIC (Leading research center on inflammation disease), Science translational Unit – Sanofi Aventis and Sanofi Diabetes – the project is structured around four main strands:
- the implementation of a non-invasive liquid diagnostic tool using bio-markers
- modelling of the pathology in silico
- investigation into the different ways of signalling the disease by means of a ‘multiomic’ analysis
- the optimisation of existing animal models
This project, which is supported by the FHU Integra project, is funded by Inserm (the coordinating institution), the University of Lille, the University Hospital of Lille (CHU de Lille), the CNRS, the Institut Pasteur of Lille and Sanofi. It benefits from state aid managed by the National Research Agency under the Investments for the Future programme, bearing the reference number ANR-16-RHUS-0006.