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In Canada, over 30% of adults and 10% of children are affected with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), a chronic condition often related to obesity. NAFLD refers to a range of conditions related to excess fat in the liver, unrelated to alcohol intake. NAFLD is a precursor to liver cirrhosis, end stage liver disease and is a major risk factor for liver cancers. NAFLD is also an important risk factor for cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and chronic kidney disease.
Despite the prevalence and serious health implications of NAFLD, weight loss through lifestyle interventions (which has low long-term success) or bariatric surgery (which has increased risk of side effects) are currently the only methods to treat the disease. Therefore, designing new therapies including medications to treat NAFLD is critical.
The development of NAFLD is complicated and involves several factors, such as the environment around us and many parts of the human body, including the liver, fat, muscle and the billions of bacteria that reside within our gastrointestinal tract or gut. A key factor causing NAFLD is altered metabolism of the adipose tissue (fat) and liver.
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