Pursuing Breakthroughs in the Treatment of NASH

Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is a serious, progressive form of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). NASH is expected to be the leading cause of liver transplants within the next decade.1,2 Pfizer researchers are working to develop treatments for NASH and its complications to fill the existing significant unmet medical need.

For more information about our NASH pipeline and clinical trials visit this page.

What is NASH?

Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is a serious, progressive liver disease caused by a buildup of fat in the liver accompanied by inflammation and liver cell scarring and damage.3

Who gets NASH and how?

Although NASH is largely unrecognized and underdiagnosed, it is believed to affect at least three to five percent of the global population.4 There are several factors that lead to NASH – some people are genetically predisposed to NASH, while others have contributing conditions, such as obesity, Type 2 diabetes or other cardiovascular disease risk factors.3

What are the symptoms of NASH?

NASH is often called a “silent” disease because many people experience few or no symptoms until the disease is in an advanced stage.3 In some circumstances, people with NASH may experience fatigue, pain, discomfort in the upper right side of the abdomen or weight loss.3 Patients who are overweight, obese, have metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance, Type 2 diabetes, high levels of triglycerides or blood cholesterol, are more likely to be at risk for NASH. Over time, NASH can lead to liver scarring (fibrosis), and may progress to cirrhosis, liver cancer, liver transplant and even death. 3

How is NASH diagnosed?

Currently, the gold standard to effectively diagnose NASH is through a liver biopsy, which can detect liver inflammation and liver cell damage. Many physicians do not recommend this for every one of their patients as biopsies are expensive, cumbersome and carry a risk of serious complications.5 New non-invasive diagnostic tools, including circulating biomarkers, which are identified through simple blood tests, and various types of imaging modalities are being investigated as alternative options to biopsy for screening and potentially diagnosing patients with NASH.

Can NASH be treated?

While there are numerous therapies under clinical investigation, there are currently no approved medicines available to stop or reverse the fat accumulation, inflammation and liver cell injury caused by NASH. Physical activity, weight loss and eating a healthy diet are recommended to manage or slow the progression of the disease.

Kim WR, Lake JR, Smith JM, Skeans MA, Schladt DP, Edwards EB, Harper AM, Wainright JL, Snyder JJ, Israni AK, Kasiske BL Am J Transplant. 2015 Jan; 15 Suppl 2():1-28.
Zezos P and Renner E, World J Gastroenterol. 2014 Nov 14; 20(42): 15532–15538
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, Definition and Facts of NAFLD and NASH. Updated November 2016. Accessed November 3, 2017.
Chalasani, N., et al. The diagnosis and management of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease: practice Guideline by the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases, American College of Gastroenterology, and the American Gastroenterological Association. June 2012.
World J Gastroenterol. 1999 Aug 15; 5(4): 301–304