We are acting on our purpose to defeat diabetes and other serious chronic diseases by expanding our commitment in areas of high unmet need, including non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). This is a disease that impacts a growing number of people worldwide, and we welcome you to learn more about its causes, symptoms, and how to improve liver health, while also discovering our research and development efforts to help address the unmet medical need in this disease area.

It can be difficult to understand the differences within the spectrum of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).

NAFLD is an umbrella term for conditions caused by the build-up of extra fat in the liver that is not caused by alcohol intake. As fatty liver disease progresses, the liver can become inflamed (hepatitis) and damaged, which can lead to fibrosis, or scarring of the liver. When people with NAFLD reach this stage it is known as nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), which is the most severe form of NAFLD. After years of damage due to fibrosis, NASH can lead to cirrhosis, which is severe scarring of the liver that can lead to further complications such as loss of liver function, liver failure and liver cancer.

The exact cause of NAFLD and NASH is not known but it is well understood that obesity, type 2 diabetes or pre-diabetes, high levels of ‘bad’ (LDL) cholesterol and metabolic syndrome are risk factors that make people more likely to develop these conditions.

With the rising prevalence of obesity and type 2 diabetes, both strong risk factors for NASH, there is a growing number of people living with this serious chronic disease today.

NASH is known as a ‘silent disease’ because it has few or no symptoms, especially in its early stages. People with NASH usually report feeling non-specific symptoms that can easily be mistaken for other conditions. These symptoms may include:

  • Abdominal pain, usually in the upper right side
  • Back pain
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness

Because symptoms are often non-specific, it can be challenging to recognise and diagnose NASH. Confirming a NASH diagnosis will often require a variety of tests, including blood tests, ultrasounds, and a liver biopsy.

Today, there is no cure or any medicines available to treat NASH, so following a healthy diet and maintaining a healthy weight is essential to managing this disease. Most people diagnosed with early-stage non-alcoholic fatty liver disease will not develop serious complications, if managed properly.

If you have NASH, it is important that you work with your doctor to come up with a personalised plan to implement lifestyle modifications and losing weight, if needed.

Today, there is no cure or any medicines available to treat NASH, so following a healthy diet and maintaining a healthy weight is essential to managing this disease.

At Novo Nordisk, we are committed to meeting this challenge by leveraging our expertise in obesity and type 2 diabetes with an ambition to develop new treatment options that can reduce – or even reverse – liver damage in people living with NASH. We are also supporting the advancement of non-invasive diagnostic tests to help address challenges in screening, diagnosing and monitoring prognosis of NASH.

Watch the video above to hear about the important work our scientists are doing to help improve the lives of those living with NASH.

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