DKK 60 million ($9.2 million) awarded to NASH research team

DKK 60 million ($9.2 million) awarded to NASH research team

An international research consortium led by Prof. Sakari Kauppinen from the Center for RNA Medicine, Aalborg University in Denmark receives DKK 60 million ($9.2 million) from the Novo Nordisk Foundation’s Challenge 2018 Programme to advance development of new therapies for the treatment of nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH)

Last modified: 23.01.2019

The NASH Research Consortium (NASH-RC) combines the scientific expertise and resources of four leading research institutions to tackle NASH. In addition to Prof. Kauppinen from Aalborg University, the NASH-RC comprises the following members: Prof. Anders Näär from Department of Nutritional Sciences & Toxicology, University of California, Berkeley, USA; Prof. Pier Paolo Pandolfi from the Cancer Center and Cancer Research Institute at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC), Harvard Medical School, Boston, USA; and Assoc. Prof Ryan Temel from the Saha Cardiovascular Research Center, Department of Physiology, University of Kentucky, Lexington, USA.

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is the most common type of chronic liver disease worldwide with a global prevalence of approx. 25%. Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is a progressive subtype of NAFLD characterized by the presence of ballooned hepatocytes, inflammation and fibrosis. NASH is strongly associated with obesity and the metabolic syndrome and is rapidly becoming the leading cause of end-stage liver disease, liver transplantation and hepatocellular carcinoma, underscoring the need for new therapies for treatment of NASH.

New RNA medicines for treatment of NASH

The NASH-RC project focuses on developing microRNA-targeted therapeutics as a new treatment paradigm for NASH.

- There is an urgent need for new therapies for NASH patients. We are therefore extremely grateful to the Novo Nordisk Foundation for its support of our collaborative NASH research project, says Sakari Kauppinen.

- Our goal is to discover drugs for effective and safe inhibition of metabolic microRNAs and assess their therapeutic potential to treat NASH in highly relevant preclinical models of NASH. Furthermore, we will evaluate hepatic and circulating microRNAs in human samples as biomarkers for NASH. We believe that successful development of combined diagnostics and microRNA-targeted therapeutics has the potential to guide new treatment options for patients with NASH, he concludes.

Lars Hvilsted Rasmussen, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, shares the vision:

- Research in RNA medicines has great potential in translating RNA discoveries into new, innovative therapies for the treatment of a wide array of human diseases, including NASH and cancer. I’m delighted that the Novo Nordisk Foundation has decided to recognize our research in RNA medicines by awarding this important grant to the Center for RNA Medicine.



  • Professor Sakari Kauppinen, Center for RNA Medicine, Department of Clinical Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, AAU,, +45 20 47 79 94
  • Dean Lars Hvilsted Rasmussen, Faculty of Medicine, AAU,, +45 20 10 58 37