According to the American Liver Foundation, about 100 million people in the United States have nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). This number has doubled over the last 20 years, and NAFLD is the most common form of liver disease in children. About 24% of Americans have NAFLD, and many who have it are unaware that they do.
NAFLD can develop into nonalcoholic steatohepititis (NASH) if left untreated. With NASH, the liver becomes inflamed or damaged. Between about 1.5% and 6.5% of Americans have NASH.
“Currently, there are no FDA-approved drugs for the treatment of NASH,” said Dr. Muhammad Nadeem Aslam, an assistant research scientist in the Department of Pathology at the University of Michigan. “Prevention is possible but depends on changes in lifestyle and dietary modifications. This will not work for everyone.”
Red marine algae are having a big year
Dr. Aslam is the senior investigator for pre-clinical research exploring the use of a multi-mineral supplement called Aquamin for treating NASH. It is derived from red marine algae and is rich in calcium, magnesium, 72 other minerals, and trace elements.
The results have been encouraging so far, according to Dr. Aslam. “If these proof-of-concept findings — i.e., mitigating the downstream liver consequences of a high fat diet using a combination of minerals (as present in red algae-derived product) — demonstrate success in humans, then this could have a huge impact on human health,” he said.
Researchers in the lab of University of Michigan’s Dr. James Varani — where Dr. Aslam was a post-doc — conducted 15-month trials with mice who had been fed high fat diets, some of whom were given Aquamin to assess its effect on colon cancer. “While the focus was on the colon polyps (tumors),” said Dr. Aslam, “we noticed that most of the male mice (some female mice as well) on the high fat diet had developed large liver tumors, and mice on Aquamin had no tumors in the liver.”
The researchers conducted a second, 18-month trial, and the results were the same. A short-term trial conducted by Dr. Aslam’s lab confirmed the findings.
The research was presented to the American Society for Investigative Pathology annual meeting at the Experimental Biology (EB) 2022 conference on April 3, 2022.
Source: Medical News Today
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