NASH and pericarditis: VCU Wright Center researchers co-author two NEJM articles

Antonio Abbate and Arun Sanyal headshots

Two leaders at the Wright Center are co-authors on articles in the New England Journal of Medicine this month.

Arun Sanyal, M.D., associate director for KL2 Career Development at the Wright Center, contributed to research showing the effects of semaglutide, a medication used to treat diabetes, on nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), a disease that affects millions of people in the U.S. each year.

Published Nov. 13, “A Placebo-Controlled Trial of Subcutaneous Semaglutide in Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis” reports on a phase 2 trial of patients with confirmed cases of NASH. The study showed that treatment with semaglutide resulted in a significantly higher percentage of patients with NASH resolution than in those who received the placebo.

The research was presented at a recent virtual conference of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases, where Sanyal also presented a field overview of the NASH landscape and recent clinical trial results. Sanyal leads and is part of multiple research projects on NASH at VCU, some showing promise for the treatment of the disease, which is the leading cause for liver transplantation in the U.S.

Antonio Abbate, M.D., Ph.D., associate director of hub research capacity at the Wright Center, contributed to research testing the safety and efficacy of an anti-inflammatory medication, rilonacept, on the rare disease of pericarditis.

Published Nov. 16, “Phase 3 Trial of Interleukin-1 Trap Rilonacept in Recurrent Pericarditis” reports that the drug was effective in 96% of patients with recurrent pericarditis. There are currently no FDA approved therapies for pericarditis. Read the Cleveland Clinic’s press release about the research.

Results of the study were presented at the American Heart Association’s recent Scientific Sessions. Abbate has spent many years studying heart diseases like pericarditis, exploring the link between heart conditions and inflammation.

Both Sanyal and Abbate have continued their research into heart and liver diseases this year, while leading and guiding clinical trials into the treatment of COVID-19.

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Goal 4: Innovate Processes to Increase the Quality and Efficiency of Translational Research, Particularly of Multisite Trials