Stool Microbes Predict Advanced Liver Disease

Proof-of-concept study suggests a noninvasive test for specific microbial population patterns could be used to detect advanced nonalcoholic fatty liver disease —

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) — a condition that can lead to liver cirrhosis and cancer — isn’t typically detected until it’s well advanced. Even then, diagnosis requires an invasive liver biopsy. To detect NAFLD earlier and more easily, researchers in the NAFLD Research Center at University of California San Diego School of Medicine, Human Longevity, Inc. and the J. Craig Venter Institute report that the unique microbial makeup of a patient’s stool sample — or gut microbiome — can be used to predict advanced NAFLD with 88 to 94 percent accuracy.

The proof-of-concept study, which involved 135 participants, is published May 2 in Cell Metabolism.Read the Full Story from the UC San Diego Health Newsroom


The first author of the study is Rohit Loomba, MD, professor of medicine in the Division of Gastroenterology, director of the NAFLD Research Center and a faculty member in the Center for Microbiome Innovation at UC San Diego.

Unexpected Activity of Two Enzymes Helps Explain Why Liver Cancer Drugs Fail

Overturning previous assumptions, study also provides new, more realistic model for liver cancer research and drug development —

Some cancers are caused by loss of enzymes that should keep cell growth in check. On the flip side, some are caused by over-activation of enzymes that enhance cell growth. Yet drugs that inhibit the overactive enzymes have failed to work against liver cancer. In mouse models, researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine have discovered a potential reason — counterintuitively, lack of both types of these enzymes can lead to liver disease and cancer. In human liver tumor samples, they also found that deficiencies in these two enzymes, called Shp2 and Pten, are associated with poor prognosis.

The study, published December 13 by Cell Reports, provides a new understanding of how liver cancer develops, a new therapeutic approach and new mouse model for studying the disease. … Read the Full Story from the UC San Diego Newsroom


Rohit Loomba, MD

Rohit Loomba, MD

The study team includes Rohit Loomba, MD, MHSc, Director of the NAFLD Research Center and Director of Hepatology in the Division of Gastroenterology, Department of Medicine at UC San Diego. Dr. Loomba is Professor of Medicine (with tenure) and Vice Chief, Division of Gastroenterology.

Dr. Loomba is also Adjunct Professor, Division of Epidemiology, Department of Family Medicine and Public Health.

Diabetes Drug Found No Better Than Placebo at Treating NAFLD

But randomized, double-blind clinical trial suggests better way to conduct future trials —

A diabetes medication described in some studies as an effective treatment for nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) works no better than a placebo, report researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine, after conducting the first randomized, double-blind, controlled clinical trial of sitagliptin, an oral antihyperglycemic marketed by Merck & Co. under the name Januvia.

Writing in the Journal of Hepatology, a multidisciplinary team headed by study senior author Rohit Loomba, MD, professor of medicine in the Division of Gastroenterology and director of the NAFLD Translational Research Unit at UC San Diego School of Medicine … Read the full story from the UC San Diego Newsroom

Novel 3D Imaging Offers New Tool for Identifying Advanced Fibrosis in Liver

UC San Diego School of Medicine NAFLD Research Center finds MRE imaging provides highly accurate, less invasive method —

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, or NAFLD, comprises a group of liver disorders whose prevalence is widespread and rising. It’s estimated that at least one-third of Americans have NAFLD; among obese persons, the figure is 50 percent. … Read the Full Story from the UC San Diego Newsroom


Rohit Loomba, MD, MHSc

Rohit Loomba, MD, MHSc

Rohit Loomba, MD, MHSc, Director of the NAFLD Research Center, is first author of the study report in The American Journal of Gastroenterology.

Dr. Loomba is Professor of Medicine in the Division of Gastroenterology, Department of Medicine; and Adjunct Professor in the Division of Epidemiology, Department of Family and Preventive Medicine.

UC San Diego Launches New Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease Research Center

Roughly one-quarter of all Americans – an estimated 100 million adults and children – have nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), a chronic condition that can lead to cirrhosis, liver cancer and liver failure. Combining a diverse array of basic science, biomarkers, imaging and clinical efforts, University of California, San Diego School of Medicine has launched a new NAFLD Research Center to better understand the disease and develop treatments where none currently exist.

“We already have a lot of depth and breadth in the study and treatment of NAFLD and associated conditions at UC San Diego,” said Rohit Loomba, MD, professor of medicine in the Division of Gastroenterology and director of the new center. … Read the full story from the UC San Diego Newsroom


Rohit Loomba, MDNAFLD Research Center director Rohit Loomba, MD, MHSc, is Professor of Clinical Medicine and Associate Director of Clinical Research in the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology.

He is a clinical and translational physician-scientist who focuses his work on chronic liver diseases with particular attention to nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). He is an internationally recognized expert in translational research and innovative clinical trial design in NAFLD and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) and hepatic fibrosis.

He directs the NAFLD Clinic at UC San Diego Medical Center.

Dr. Loomba became a member of the Division of Gastroenterology faculty in 2009, when he graduated from the UC San Diego Gastroenterology Fellowship Program. He received his clinical and research training in advanced hepatology at the National Institutes of Health.

He holds an adjunct faculty appointment in the UC San Diego Division of Epidemiology, Department of Family Medicine and Public Health at UC San Diego.

Fatty Liver Disease and Scarring Have Strong Genetic Component

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine say that hepatic fibrosis, which involves scarring of the liver that can result in dysfunction and, in severe cases, cirrhosis and cancer, may be as much a consequence of genetics as environmental factors.

The findings are published online in the journal Gastroenterology. … Read the Full Story from the UC San Diego Newsroom

Dr. Rohit Loomba on Fatty Liver Disease: HHMI Bulletin

Dr. Rohit LoombaDr. Rohit Loomba, a UCSD hepatologist who specializes in fatty liver disease, is interviewed in an article about the disease in the Fall 2012 health bulletin from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

In “The Fat You Can’t See,” Loomba describes the rising incidence of fatty liver disease and points to society’s general increase in dietary sugar intake as a major cause. He emphasizes the importance of identifying individuals who are at highest risk for developing the disease and he predicts there will be a dramatic increase in our understanding of the disease in the next five years.

Rohit Loomba, MD, MHSc, is assistant professor of clinical medicine in the Division of Gastroenterology. He also holds an appointment in the Division of Epidemiology in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine.

Loomba conducts his clinical practice in UC San Diego Health System’s liver disease clinics. In his research laboratory, he conducts a variety of studies of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), including a number of clinical trials.

With a four-year mentored patient-oriented research career development grant from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), Loomba is investigating the genetic epidemiology of NAFLD in a twin-pair study. In that work, his mentors are UCSD researchers Daniel T. O’Connor, MD, professor of medicine and pharmacology; Elizabeth Barrett-Connor, MD, distinguished professor and chief of the Division of Epidemiology in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine; and David Brenner, MD, Vice Chancellor for Health Sciences and Dean of the School of Medicine.

Loomba serves as the UCSD site principal investigator for the Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis Clinical Research Network (NASH-CRN) studies in adult patients with NAFLD. NASH-CRN, an NIDDK-sponsored research consortium funded via a UO1 research program-cooperative agreement mechanism, aims to improve understanding of the natural history, pathophysiology and management of NAFLD.

In addition, he is the founding director and principal investigator of the San Diego Integrated NAFLD Research Consortium (SINC), which includes four centers: UCSD, Kaiser Permanente Health System, Sharp Health System, and Balboa Naval Medical Center. SINC is a collaborative network that allows community-based patients to participate in NAFLD studies conducted at UCSD.

Loomba has established a major NAFLD research program at UCSD with recently published investigator-initiated treatment studies in NASH (Le et al., Hepatology September 2012) and several in progress.

In various NAFLD translational research studies currently ongoing at UCSD, Loomba collaborates with Drs. Jerrold Olefsky, David Brenner, Claude Sirlin, Bernd Schnabl, Lars Eckmann, Edward Dennis, Ariel Feldstein and Ekihiro Seki.

He also directs the UCSD fellowship training program in liver epidemiology and patient-oriented outcomes research.

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Combined Health Agencies Honors Four UC San Diego Health Heroes

Brain stimulation surgery for patients with Parkinson’s disease; promoting liver health on a national level; leading one of the nation’s top ALS clinics; and designing a law that protects the rights of students with epilepsy: these are significant reasons why four UC San Diego School of Medicine doctors were honored during the 18th annual Combined Health Agencies Health Hero Awards … Read the full story from the UCSD Newsroom


Dr. Rohit LoombaAmong the Health Heroes honored is Rohit Loomba, MD, MHSc, assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Gastroenterology.

Loomba was recognized for his national and local contributions to community health through the American Liver Foundation. He was elected to the foundation’s national board of directors in December 2011.

He is also an assistant professor in the epidemiology division of the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine.