The UK-PBC Nested Cohort Study

Study code

Lead researcher
Dr George Mells

Study type
Participant re-contact

Institution or company
University of Cambridge

Researcher type

Speciality area

Recruitment Site


The UK-PBC Nested Cohort Study is aimed at finding out why treatment with ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA) is highly effective in some people with primary biliary cholangitis (PBC, formerly known as primary biliary cirrhosis) but less effective in others.  

PBC is a chronic liver disease that causes cirrhosis (scarring of the liver) in a substantial proportion of patients. UDCA is the only medication currently approved for treatment of PBC. In some people with PBC, there is marked improvement in the liver blood tests after starting UDCA. These people are known as UDCA responders. In other people with PBC, the liver blood tests improve less well after starting UDCA. These patients are known as UDCA non-responders. UDCA non-responders are much more likely to develop cirrhosis and liver failure, for which the only treatment is a liver transplant. It is unknown why some people with PBC are UDCA responders while others are non-responders. Finding out will help investigators to develop better treatments for all people with PBC.   

Healthy volunteers from the NIHR BioResource are invited to join the study to help researchers understand how UDCA responders and non-responders differ from healthy individuals.  

Participation: For this study we recruited 121 participants from the Cambridge BioResource. Visits took place at the NIHR Cambridge Clinical Research Facility on the Cambridge Biomedical campus.

Organisation: This study is organised by Dr George Mells from the Cambridge Institute for Medical Research, Addenbrooke's Hospital, UK.