Research and Clinical Trials

The British Liver Trust welcomes, supports and encourages research work into all areas of liver disease and liver cancer.

Research is an essential part of the fight against liver disease, finding new ways to improve patient care and patient outcomes.

We have been making research awards since we were first established and we are committed to continuing to fund research to:

  • improve or find new methods for the prevention, early detection and screening for all types of liver disease 
  • improve or find new treatments for liver disease to benefit patients
  • identify and address areas of unmet medical and research needs in liver disease
  • advance fundamental knowledge within hepatology

Patient Involvement in Research (PPI)W

We are sometimes able to support requests for patient engagement or involvement (PPI) in research. These requests vary and include:

  • asking patients to attend a focus group
  • disseminating a survey being involved in the governance of a research project checking research materials aimed at patients
  • advertising for patients to take part in clinical trials providing advice and information in support of a research study, right through to publicising the results.

In recognition of the time and resource taken to process and implement these requests, we incorporate best practice recommendations from other charities and from the Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC) and make a small charge for some of these services. Please do get in touch if you require our pack regarding public/patient involvement in your study by emailing info@britishlivertrust.org.uk.

Wherever possible, we suggest contacting us at the earliest possible opportunity so that the relevant costs can be included in your grant applications.

Summary of research projects

British Liver Trust is committed to promoting, funding and participating in research whenever possible. We have funded, and continue to fund, a wide range of research projects. Details of research projects funded by or with significant involvement from the British Liver Trust are listed below by subject area; reports are available to download where indicated.

Alcohol Research Fellowship
Dr Nick Sheron – University of Southampton, School of Medicine
Final report

UK Alcohol Strategy
Professors Gerard Hastings and Linda Bauld – University of Stirling
(Jointly funded with Cancer Research UK)
Stirling Report Health First

Integration of Palliative and Supportive Care in the Management of Alcohol Related Liver Disease (ALD)
Dr Ben Hudson – University Hospitals, Bristol
Ongoing project to integrate palliative and supportive care in the management of patients with ALD.

A nurse‐led FibroScan® outreach clinic to encourage socially deprived heavy drinkers to engage with liver services
Karen Matthews, NHS Lothian
Final report

Primary Liver Cancer Gene Therapy 

Dr Phil Harrison – Kings College School of Medicine, Institute of Liver Studies, London
Final report

Development of Novel Diagnostic Makers for Bile Duct Cancer
Dr Stephen Pereira – Royal Free and UCMS
Final report

Proteomic Profiling of Plasma for Biomarkers in Primary and Secondary Liver Cancers and Benign and Malignant Biliary Disease; using SELDI-TOF Mass Spectroscopy
Dr Shahid Khan – Imperial College, London
Final report

Establishment of Natural Killer Cell Therapy for Hepatocellular Carcinoma (HCC)
Professor Salim I Khakoo – University of Southampton
Final report

Insights into the Hepatocellular Carcinoma (HCC) Patient Journey: First Global Quality of Life Survey
International survey led by Jennifer Gill – London School of Economics
Final report

Coffee and Liver Health
The British Liver Trust commissioned a review of the evidence and research on coffee and liver health.
For further information click here

TIMP 1 and Fibrosis
Dr John P Iredale – University of Southampton, School of Medicine
Final report

Hepatocyte Proliferation and Apoptosis
Dr Chris Day – University of Newcastle, Medical School
Final report

Cloning & Biochemical Analysis of UTEBF
Dr D Mann – University of Southampton School of Medicine
Final report

Engineered Forms of HGF/SF in Chronic Liver Disease
Dr E Gheradi – University of Cambridge – Dept of Oncology
Final report

How Stellate Cells Modify the Local Immune Response of the Liver
Dr A Holt – Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham
(Funded jointly with the Digestive Disorders Foundation CORE)
Final Report

Optimisation of Small Interfering RNAs (siRNA) Targeted at the NF-kB Pathway for the Treatment of Liver Disease
Professor Derek Mann – University of Newcastle upon Tyne
Final report

Organ and Tissue Donation: an Evaluation of Health Care Professionals’ Knowledge and Training and Implications for Education
Doctoral thesis by Timothy Collins – University of Greenwich School of Education, London
Final report

End of Life Care for people with Liver Disease
Partnership with Marie Curie and the Royal Free Hospital, London.  The research was completed in 2017 and the report is available here: https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/7/8/e016887.full?ijkey=PGkAXwp8zrd7zyj&keytype=ref

Survey of Liver Services in Scotland
Alastair MacGilchrist – Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh
Survey commissioned by the British Liver Trust and the Scottish Society of Gastroenterology on the provision of secondary care services for patients with liver disease in Scotland 2013.
Report – Survey of Liver Services in Scotland

LOCATE – Early Detection Model
Dr Nick Sheron – University of Southampton
This is an ongoing project of patient based research to implement screening to increase the earlier detection and diagnosis of liver disease. The desired outcome is an effective detection model that can be used nationally and adapted for international implementation.

Development of Visual Aids to Assist Discussions with Patients on Treatment Options
Mr Kurinchi Gurusamy – Royal Free Hospital, London
Ongoing study looking at the development of visual aids to improve shared decision making with patients on their condition and treatment options.

Developing Effective Liver Function Tests (LFTs)
Led by British Society of Gastroenterology (BSG)
Study on the effectiveness and knowledge of outcomes of LFTs in Primary Care and GP surgeries.  This was launched in December 2017, here is the report: https://www.bsg.org.uk/resource/new-guidelines-on-the-management-of-abnormal-liver-blood-tests—press-release.html

People’s Experiences of Liver Transplant Services
Ongoing study led by the Picker Institute
This is an ongoing study with funding and involvement by the British Liver Trust for the British Liver Transplant Group (BLTG) to develop evidence on the views, preferences, and experiences of those involved in liver transplant services, namely; a) Patients (particularly adults) who have received liver transplants; b) NHS staff involved in the provision of transplant services.

Currently, little is known about patients view as strengths and weaknesses of the current service model for liver transplant provision – or about how well this model meets their preferences. The study will collect the views and preferences of patients. Ultimately, this could provide evidence to inform and influence a potential review of how transplant services are organised.

Social Research

Epidemiology of Liver Disease in Tayside Study
Dr J F Dillon – Ninewells Hospital and Medical School, Dundee
Final report

Impact and Burden of Liver Disease in the UK
Dr P Roderick – University of Southampton, School of Medicine
(Funded jointly with the Foundation for Liver Research)
Final report

Systematic Review of the Prevalence of Mildly Abnormal Liver Function Tests and Associated Health Outcomes
Sven Radcke, John F Dillon and Aja L Murray – British Liver Trust, University of Edinburgh, University of Dundee
To read the full article visit the
European Journal of Gastroenterology
Abstract     Results Table 1    Results Table 2

James Lind Alliance Alcohol-Related Liver Disease Priority Setting Partnership (PSP) 
The British Liver Trust played a key part in this exercise that sought to agree key research priorities. Data was collected through a survey asking patients, carers and health professionals for their unanswered questions around the diagnosis, treatment and care of alcohol-related liver disease. Over 230 responses were received from across the UK, and the top 25 questions were then taken to the JLA Alcohol-Related Liver Disease PSP workshop in September, where health professionals, patients and carers worked collaboratively to reach the final Top 10.


General Public Awareness Survey
The British Liver Trust commissioned survey from market research company ComRes to find out the perception of liver disease among adults in the UK.
Final report

Specific Liver conditions

Pathogenesis of Primary Biliary Cirrhosis
Dr J Neuberger – University Hospital Birmingham
Final research article

The Molecular Basis of Mucosal T Cell Homing to the Liver in Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis
Professor David Adams – University of Birmingham
Final report

Molecular Action of New Therapies in Obstetric Cholestasis
Professor Catherine Williamson – Imperial College, London
This is an ongoing project. Professor Williamson is researching potential safe treatments in pregnancy to protect the unborn child from bile induced damage as happens in Obstetric Cholestasis. This project has been extended for additional clinical trials on two other potential drug therapies.
Final Report

Development, Validation and Evaluation of a Disease Specific Quality of Life (QoL) Tool for Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis (PSC)
Lead consultant Dr Douglas Thorburn – Royal Free Hospital, London
There is currently no specific tool to measure quality of life for PSC patients, NICE relies on evidence from QoL and economic measurements, to appraise new potential medicines and treatments; it is vital therefore to develop high quality validated tools to help ensure any effective PSC therapies have the best chance of becoming available to patients. This project is at ethics stage and will include a patient questionnaire and literature review before reporting again in 12-18 months’ time.
Project funded by a supporter legacy.

European Study on New Treatments for Non Alcohol Related Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD)
Led by Dr Emmanouil Tsochatzis – Royal Free Hospital, London
Ongoing research study aiming to ascertain if the administration of simvastatin or rifaximin, alone or in combination, can reduce the incidence of hepatic decompensation or mortality in patients with compensated cirrhosis and clinically significant portal hypertension.

New Therapy against Wilson’s Disease
Led by Professor Aftab Ala, Consultant Hepatologist, Royal Surrey County Hospital
This is an ongoing research project in which British Liver Trust is helping recruit patients for a new research study to evaluate the efficacy and safety of a new therapy against Wilson’s disease. Information on eligibility for the trial can be found on our page
here. Additional information is available here or by contacting Professor Aftab Ala, Consultant Hepatologist, Royal Surrey County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, by email to: aftabala@nhs.net

Viral Hepatitis

Antigen Presentation in HBV Infection
Miss S Shanmuganathan – St Mary’s Hospital, London
Final report

Creation of Hepatitis B (HBV) Research Network and Biobank
Led by Medical Research Council
Ongoing project to create an equivalent Biobank for Hepatitis B research as currently already exists for Hepatitis C.