UK- PBC Nested Cohort Study

Study code

Lead researcher
Dr George Mells

Study type
Participant re-contact

Institution or company
Department of Medical Genetics, University of Cambridge

Researcher type

Speciality area

Graphic of Human Liver In Torso


Primary Biliary Cholangitis (PBC) is an autoimmune liver disease which mainly affects older women and can lead to scarring of the liver. In some people with PBC, scarring of the liver becomes steadily worse over time and may develop into liver failure and needing a liver transplant.

Currently, only two medications, Ursodeoxycholic Acid and Obeticholic Acid, are licensed for the treatment of PBC. Most people with PBC respond well to treatment with one or two of these medications. However, for some unknown reason, some people may respond poorly to the current treatment for PBC. Knowing why people with PBC respond differently to current medication could help to identify new and better treatments.

In the UK- PBC Nested Cohort Study, the research team will be using RNA sequencing to profile the immune cells of people with PBC who respond well to current medication, those who respond poorly and healthy volunteers without the disease.

This study will tell us whether, and how, the immune system influences a patient response to treatment of PBC. This knowledge will provide a guide to new medication and a way to predict who might need them.

Organisation: The UK-PBC Nested Cohort Study is led by Dr. George Mells and Dr. Victoria Mulcahy from the Department of Medical Genetics at the University of Cambridge.

Participation: Volunteers who are enrolled in the Cambridge BioResource are invited to participate in the UK-PBC Nested Cohort Study.  The study was launched in April 2023 with the aim of recruiting up to 25 Caucasian females aged 50 to 70 years old. The study involves a single visit to research unit on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus.

Each recruited volunteer will sign a consent form and donate up to 50 ml of blood. Before starting the study, the staff at the Cambridge BioResource will pre-screen each volunteer to assess their suitability for this study. Each volunteer will be assessed for any liver disease, liver transplant, autoimmune conditions, poorly managed diabetes and excess alcohol consumption.