Approximately 15,000 hospitalizations occur each year for pediatric liver disease in the United States. Faculty at Nationwide Children’s are working to better understand how liver disease develops in children and working toward improved treatments and possible vaccines.
Specifically, investigators are studying the mechanisms that cause cirrhosis, one of the most common fibrotic liver diseases. Studies focus on connective tissue growth factor (CTGF), a protein important in tissue development and healing, and its role in fibrotic diseases. Findings are intended to help determine the therapeutic value of targeting CTGF pathways to treat fibrotic disorders.
As many as 1 in 250 children are infected with hepatitis C in the United States. Hepatitis C virus infection most often becomes a chronic condition that can lead to cirrhosis of the liver and liver cancer. Investigators at Nationwide Children’s are also studying how immune responses are subverted in this viral infection, work that may contribute to hepatitis C vaccine development. They are also investigating vertical transmission of the virus from mothers to their newborn infants.