Spotlight on: Gautam Mehta
Honorary Consultant and Senior Lecturer, UCL
Gautam is exploring new ways to treat patients with liver failure and alcohol-related liver disease. Liver disease is the third commonest cause of preventable death in the UK and rates are rising rapidly, therefore new treatments are urgently needed. Gautam’s research involves sequencing RNA (part of the genetic code of cells) from human liver and immune cells to identify molecular ‘switches’ related to liver injury and that may be used as targets for drug development. Gautam also works with patients with alcohol-related liver problems, looking at novel ways to use technology to help them manage their disease. This includes using smartphones and apps to modify behaviour.
Gautam’s research has been widely covered by the press, including documentaries with BBC Horizon, Channel 4, The Guardian, as well as coverage in other press and radio media.
Gautam’s study requires access to blood samples and tissue from patients suffering from liver disease, either at routine appointments or at the time of routine surgery or transplantation.
'Samples from patients with liver disease is crucial for understanding the molecular events that lead to patients becoming sick with liver disease, so we can identify new targets and develop new drugs.'
What do you find challenging about working with human samples?>
'The main limitation is that the liver is quite difficult to get to! Patients are usually very supportive of our efforts to investigate and treat liver disease and happy to help in any way they can, but of course the liver is difficult to sample unlike other areas such as the skin. This is why working at a liver transplant centre is crucial, because patients can donate tissue for research at the time of surgery, with no added inconvenience.'
What is the worst part of your job?
'When experiments don’t work for whatever reason. But all progress is made by trial and failure, and we are making progress!
What is the best part of your job?
'Seeing new treatments come to the clinic, which may have been the result of decades of research. Just this year, has seen new drugs become available to cure Hepatitis C - a genuine breakthrough of modern liver research which will save many, many lives. Similar new drugs are around the corner for Cirrhosis and other liver diseases. It’s an exciting time to be a liver researcher!'
You can read more about Gautam's work below:
UCL Liver failure research group
Abstaining from alcohol for 'dry January' reduces liver damage and blood pressure, study finds
You can read more about Liver disease below:
Gautam uses the UCL Royal Free Hospital Biobank
You can also read our introduction to Biobanking to find out more.