New PhD project to provide clearer picture of future treatment of fatty liver inflammation
A sedentary lifestyle and an unhealthy diet are frequent causes of chronic liver disease. A PhD project will investigate how small fatty liver blood vessels fail.
Metabolic liver damage can cause defects in the normally well-organized structure of the tissue, including its blood vessels, and it has a major impact on liver function. This is because the defects disrupt communication between other cells in the liver. In his impending PhD project, which the Danish Diabetes Academy is funding to the tune of DKK 1.1 million, Daniel Hansen will study the molecular changes that occur around the small blood vessels of the liver in non-alcoholic steatohepatitis or NASH (fatty liver inflammation, Ed.).
‘Defects in the small blood vessels of the liver are a familiar complication of chronic liver disease, but the molecular and cellular interactions underlying them have not yet been mapped’, says Daniel Hansen, a PhD student-to-be at the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Southern Denmark.
Finland visit planned
One of the liver’s main jobs is to maintain a normal metabolic balance. When metabolic liver disease develops, an imbalance is created in the system. Overweight and impaired insulin sensitivity are two important parameters that contribute to the development of metabolic disease. One way this is apparent is in the growing incidence of conditions such as fatty liver, which can to a significant extent be attributed to a sedentary lifestyle and unhealthy eating habits. Along with overweight, fatty liver increases the risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
‘The aim of my PhD project is to identify interactions between liver cells, and it will contribute extensively to a further understanding of NASH-related damage. The project also has the potential to identify new cell interactions and hence new therapeutic strategies for the future treatment of liver disease’, explains Daniel Hansen, who is set to spend time at the University of Turku in Finland as part of the project. There, he will collaborate with some of the world’s leading experts on blood vessels and disease-related changes in them.
Using mouse and human liver tissue and cells
Daniel Hansen will use both healthy and diseased mouse and human liver cells in his research. He will study the liver tissue’s gene expression and examine how the cells function individually and in interaction with each other. He will do this using functional genomics together with mathematical tools and tissue studies.
‘These combined techniques are therefore able to identify functional connections between cell populations on the basis of their placement in the tissue and their individual gene expression’, explains Daniel Hansen, who submitted his Master’s dissertation at the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Southern Denmark, in summer 2020.
The principal supervisor for his Master’s project is Associate Professor Kim Ravnskjær PhD, who will also be at Daniel Hansen’s side for the next three years during his PhD research.
By Pernille Fløjstrup Andersen, Communications Officer, DDA
Daniel Hansen MSc, born 1996
Has been awarded DKK 1.1 million by the Danish Diabetes Academy.
PhD project title: Spatiotemporal Deconstruction of Microvascular Decay in NASH
Research centres: Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Southern Denmark / Turku University, Finland
Contact: +45 2242 0002
Contact Danish Diabetes Academy
Managing Director Tore Christiansen
Phone: +45 2964 6764