FRAME is pleased to welcome Razan Al-Momani back to the Alternatives Laboratory as a postdoctoral researcher, following the completion of her PhD, which focused on inflammation in the liver.
Razan’s PhD investigated the role of the Liver X Receptor (LXR) in inflammation at the FRAME Alternatives Laboratory. LXRs belong to a family of nuclear receptors which include the steroid hormone receptors. Steroids such as hydrocortisone have for a long time been used as anti-inflammatory compounds for skin itching and irritation, and work by activating the nuclear glucocorticoid receptor. More recently, activating LXRs has been shown to have similar anti-inflammatory properties, with potential to treat inflammation in organs such as the liver.
LXRs have been shown to have anti-inflammatory and anti-fibrotic activities in experimental models of liver disease. One of the main forms of liver disease is non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) in which the liver becomes loaded with fat, which can eventually lead to fibrosis, inflammation and may necessitate a liver transplant. The incidence of NAFLD is increasing rapidly – it is estimated that up to 6 percent of the global population have NAFLD with accompanying inflammation and fibrosis.
There is no current cure for NAFLD and the development of drugs to treat the inflammation and fibrosis of the liver associated with NAFLD is a major health priority. Activation of LXRs is anti-inflammatory but also causes increased fat deposition in the liver, making current compounds that activate LXR unsuitable for the treatment of NAFLD.
Razan investigated the possibility that certain compounds could activate the anti-inflammatory properties of LXR without causing an increase in fat production. She also investigated the molecular mechanisms that underpin the anti-inflammatory action of LXRs.
Commenting on her PhD, Razan said: “I have always been interested in science but working at FRAME under the supervision of Dr Andrew Bennett and Dr Stephen Alexander has brought out the researcher in me, and I have grown to love the journey in searching for scientific answers. In the future, I would like to work for research institutes and help to contribute towards making advances in science.”
Razan will also be a supervisor to Jade Eley, who is completing her Master of Research degree in Neuroscience (MRes) at the FRAME Alternatives Laboratory this year.
Razan adds: “I am pleased to be working at FRAME for another year as a post doc. Everyone at the laboratory is friendly and helpful, and I feel like they are my family now. I am excited to have the opportunity to continue my anti-inflammatory work and learn and grow as a scientist.”
To find out more about the projects carried out in the FRAME Alternatives Laboratory, click here.
Pictured (left to right): Razan Al-Momani; Dr Andrew Bennett and Dr Stephen Alexander.