29 million people in the EU suffer from liver disease. Liver disease includes a range of diseases and symptoms, most of which have a significant inflammatory component that leads to liver damage. There are currently no therapies targeting the inflammatory aspects of liver disease.
The MERLIN project is developing stem cell-based therapies that specifically target the inflammatory components of liver disease. The team will deploy a unique stem cell population, isolated using patented techniques and technologies which deliver purer and better-characterised stem cells than those used elsewhere. The cells will first be deployed in a series of pre-clinical tasks which will elucidate how stem cells are distributed around the body (bio–distribution), how stem cells address inflammation (mechanism of action) and how their efficacy and activity changes over time (using novel biomarkers).
The project will then carry out a clinical trial in humans, using stem cells to treat patients with a particularly severe inflammatory liver disease – Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis (PSC).