Cirrhosis is the scarring of the liver that results from damage caused by alcohol abuse, hepatitis, or malnutrition, and until now, the only treatment has been a liver transplant. In developing the new therapy, the researchers took advantage of two characteristics of the stellate cells that create the scar tissue: their absorption of vitamin A and their production of collagen, the fibrous substance that hardens the liver. The scientists designed RNA molecules that would inhibit the production of collagen and then "disguised" them with a layer of vitamin A so the stellate cells would absorb the molecules.
The success of the experiment, wrote the researchers, "suggests its therapeutic potential for reversing human liver cirrhosis" - good news indeed. We just hope the discovery of this potential new treatment won't lead lab rats to hit the sauce with abandon.