Zeist, 9 December 2019 – Scientific CRO Julius Clinical has expanded its NASH team with the appointment of Prof. Dr. Christophe Moreno and Dr. Manuel Castro Cabezas focusing on providing companies active in this therapeutic area with expert advice.
Christophe and Manuel join Prof. Joost Hoekstra as Julius Clinical’s representatives in NASH Clinical, a worldwide network of clinicians and investigators comprising endocrinologists, gastroenterologists, diabetologists and general internists. The network was founded by Julius Clinical in 2018. All three will be taking part in our special webinar on NASH, on 10 December at 19:00 CET (details here).
NASH: a serious and growing problem
NASH, or Non-Alcoholic Steatohepatitis, is the most severe form of Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD). NAFLD is often associated with insulin resistance and is strongly associated with type 2 diabetes and obesity. With NAFLD, an abnormal accumulation of fat in the liver can, in some individuals, progress to liver cell injury (hepatocellular ballooning) and inflammation. As NASH evolves, it can cause excessive scarring of the liver (fibrosis), which can lead to liver cirrhosis or liver cancer. NAFLD patients are also at higher risk of cardiovascular diseases, including coronary heart disease and stroke. There is currently no therapy for NASH except lifestyle intervention. NASH is the second most common indication for liver transplantation in the USA, and the ongoing obesity epidemic makes NASH a serious burden of disease, with a concomitant urgent need for effective drugs.
Prof. Christophe Moreno
Christophe, who will serve as a consultant to the NASH Clinical team, is Professor in Gastroenterology and Hepatology as well as Clinical Director of the Liver Unit at CUB Hôpital Erasme, Brussels, Belgium. He is a member of the American, European and Belgian associations for the study of liver disease, a reviewer for The Lancet, Journal of Hepatology and Liver International, among others, and has published extensively on liver-related conditions.
“NASH is really a big problem among NAFLD patients, and with obesity and diabetes increasing around the world, we need to find a medication to treat it,” says Christophe. “Currently, the only treatment is weight loss, but that is very difficult for this group of patients.”
“I have worked with Julius Clinical and what I like is that they have an interest in building scientific knowledge that goes beyond doing trials and treatments. NASH is a difficult disease because it is under-diagnosed and there is a lack of knowledge about it, but I believe that Julius Clinical’s project to improve screening and knowledge of the disease can help to develop a medication over the longer term.”
Dr. Manuel Castro Cabezas
Manuel Castro Cabezas, who joins Julius Clinical as a scientific officer, is an internist-endocrinologist/vascular specialist. He is Senior Consultant Internal Medicine, Endocrinology, Diabetes and Vascular Medicine at the Franciscus Gasthuis & Vlietland hospital in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, a position he will continue to hold. He has published over 200 papers in peer reviewed journals dealing with postprandial lipemia, diabetes, insulin resistance, obesity, metabolic syndrome, familial combined hyperlipidaemia, HIV lipodystrophy and free fatty acid metabolism. He was the first to describe the Complement-Lipid Pathway (CLiP), which is protected by several patents. Manuel’s network includes collaborations with different groups in the Netherlands, Spain, Canada and Australia.
On the reason why he joins the Julius Clinical team, Manuel says: “Julius Clinical is unusual as a CRO because science is really in the lead here. Usually, people like me are at the end of drug development and clinical trials, so joining Julius Clinical gives me an opportunity to participate in innovation at the beginning of a drug’s development.”
“My background is in diabetes and obesity, and with the prevalence of both increasing, this will cause an increase in NASH because of the close relationship between NASH and diabetes and obesity. I hope that by participating in new therapies for NASH, obesity and diabetes, Julius Clinical can help to increase the number of early stage clinical trials and help develop therapies for NASH.”
Meet our team in the Julius Clinical NASH webinar
In the second edition of our webinar series, Prof. Christophe Moreno, Dr. Manuel Castro Cabezas and Prof. Joost Hoekstra will explore how to manage the challenges in NASH clinical trials. The webinar is on 10 December at 19:00 CET, and you can register to join it here.