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Michael Trauner: Research focus on bile acids and their therapeutic use

(Vienna, 9th June 2011) Michael Trauner held his inaugural lecture with the focus on the effects of bile acids on 9th June 2011. Alongside gall stones and bile duct diseases, bile acids also have a significant effect on widespread diseases such as fatty liver disease, diabetes, fat metabolism disorders and arteriosclerosis.

Research into the mechanisms and the therapeutic use of bile acids form the focus of research projects by Michael Trauner, Professor for Internal Medicine with particular consideration for Gastroenterology and Hepatology at the MedUni Vienna and Director of the associated Clinical Department at Vienna General Hospital.

Trauner presented the focus of his inaugural lecture on the importance of bile acids as signal molecule in gastroenterology and hepatology, as well as in the related fields of internal medicine and surgery. Bile acids are not only useful for the isolation of the biliary secretion and the digestion of fats, but they also have hormone-like effects, in particular in order to regulate the fat and glucose metabolism in the liver. Furthermore they also have inflammation-modulating and immunomodulating effects. These could be of great significance for chronic inflammatory bowel diseases, inflammatory and neoplastic liver diseases, however also in rheumatology and intensive medicine (blood poisoning / sepsis). The metabolic effects of bile acids predominantly have a large influence on widespread diseases such as diabetes, fatty liver disease and arteriosclerosis.

Trauner explained that in therapeutic terms bile acid effects could be used better through chemical modifications and further developments of the molecules. In addition to biliary duct diseases, fatty liver disease is predominantly the most frequent liver disease of the 21st century which represents an important field of application for bile acids as medication. As an example of the active ingredient nor-ursodeoxycholic acid designed in his study group, he showed how a bile acid could be successfully developed into a medication. Phase II studies lead by Trauner with nor-ursodeoxycholic acid for the treatment of primary sclerosing cholangitis, one of the currently untreatable liver diseases, and of fatty liver disease are imminent.

Trauner sees the “physician scientist” as the central platform in the development of medications for “orphan diseases”, which includes cholestatic liver diseases such as primary sclerosing cholangitis, and for “orphan approaches”, therefore non-conventional, mechanistically-motivated and research-driven approaches to diseases. Trauner sees the required environment for this “core competence of university’s patient-sided research” at the MedUni Vienna as internationally excellently positioned. Furthermore he emphasised that metabolic and cholestatic liver diseases are already excellently suited as research and application fields of modern molecular medicine, with its aims of individually-adapted diagnostics, prognosis and therapy.
Trauner also refers in his lecture to the historic tradition of the MedUni Vienna in cholestasis and bile acid research in the form of the translational spirit of Hans Popper as one of the most important intellectual fathers of modern hepatology. Numerous modern concepts and terms used in hepatology can be traced back to Popper. In remembrance of the researcher, doctor and man, Hans Popper, and his Viennese roots, Trauner has established an international “Hans Popper Lecture”, which shall be held for the first time in Vienna on 29th September 2011.

An international high-calibre symposium with acquaintances, mentors and colleagues of Trauner’s on the subject of cholestatic and metabolic liver diseases shall take place on 10th June 2011 at Billrothhaus (1090 Vienna, Frankgasse 8) in order to provide information on the latest developments and pathogenetic concepts.

Prof. Dr. Michael Trauner, born in Linz in 1964, received his doctorate in 1991 at the University of Graz, where he was subsequently trained at the University Department to become a specialist in Internal Medicine and then completed the additional specialist training in gastroenterology and hepatology. Upon his return from several years of research at the Yale University School of Medicine (USA), Trauner established an internationally renowned research group into the field of cholestatic and metabolic liver diseases for research into the disease mechanisms and treatment of jaundice (icterus) and fatty liver disease. The research results have been published in leading professional journals and have received wide international attention.

From 2005 to 2010 Trauner held the professorship for the specialist field of Internal Medicine with a focus on Clinical and Molecular Hepatology at the Medical University of Graz and was Deputy Director of the Clinical Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology there. On 1st June 2010 Trauner took on the professorship for Internal Medicine with particular consideration for Gastroenterology and Hepatology at the MedUni Vienna and management of the Clinical Department of Gastroenterology of the University Department of Internal Medicine.

» Symposium
"Cholestatic and metabolic liver diseases: from basic science to clinical practice", Freitag, 10. Juni 2011, 8 - 18 Uhr
Gesellschaft der Ärzte | Frankgasse 8 | 1090 Wien