1Radcliffe Department of Medicine, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK. email@example.com.
2Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Mayo Clinic Rochester, Rochester, MN, USA.
3Summit Clinical Research, San Antonio, TX, USA.
4Houston Methodist Hospital, Houston, TX, USA.
5Department of Hepatology, Arizona Liver Health, Chandler, AZ, USA.
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and its more severe form, nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), represent a growing worldwide epidemic and a high unmet medical need, as no licensed drugs have been approved thus far. Currently, histopathological assessment of liver biopsies is mandatory as a primary endpoint for conditional drug approval. This requirement represents one of the main challenges in the field, as there is substantial variability in this invasive histopathological assessment, which leads to dramatically high screen-failure rates in clinical trials. Over the past decades, several non-invasive tests have been developed to correlate with liver histology and, eventually, outcomes to assess disease severity and longitudinal changes non-invasively. However, further data are needed to ensure their endorsement by regulatory authorities as alternatives to histological endpoints in phase 3 trials. This Review describes the challenges of drug development in NAFLD-NASH trials and potential mitigating strategies to move the field forward.