Heavy alcohol consumption is known to be the main cause of alcohol liver disease (ALD), but understanding the cellular interactions involved in livery injury following alcohol ingestion is poorly understood. By investigating “natural killer T-cells” and their functions in ALD, Dr. Vipin Kumar and his colleagues at Torrey Pines Institute for Molecular Studies are identifying new mechanisms to protect liver injury associated with ALD, thanks to a $2 million grant awarded by the National Institute of Health and National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).
Heavy alcohol consumption leads to diseases such as fatty liver, hepatitis, fibrosis, cirrhosis and in some cases liver cancer. Dr. Kumar has found that distinct subset of NKT cells play differential role in liver injury and can be manipulated to block ALD and significantly protect liver injuries.
“Our studies will not only unravel unique role of NKT cells in inflammatory liver diseases but also will lead to novel immunotherapies for the treatment of ALD” stated Dr. Kumar.