Alcohol misuse/abuse in the UK represents a huge burden on the NHS and society in general, with issues being particularly prominent in the North West of England. LHP Alcohol Research Alliance (LARA) is a multidisciplinary group which has been established to foster closer working links between alcohol related researchers in the Liverpool region. By bringing experts from different fields together we aim to develop cross theme programmes that will allow a range of translational research questions to be addressed. LARA’s vision is to utilise our unique position in the North West to deliver high impact outputs that will ultimately result in the best identification, treatment and monitoring strategies across the alcohol misuse/abuse spectrum. The following five themes have been developed to help achieve this vision:
The behaviour change theme is led by Professor Matt Field and will focus on factors that influence how we interact with alcohol. This theme will be bi-directional, with efforts to understand both factors that lead to alcohol misuse and interventions that reduce alcohol consumption. Researchers contributing to this have a wide range of interests including social and environmental influences on alcohol consumption, underlying cognitive processes that are implicated in alcohol use disorders and the impact of alcohol misuse on medication adherence. The theme has a strong experimental basis and expertise to investigate the mechanisms underlying factors of behaviour change.
The Liverpool alcohol research biobank is led by Professor Munir Pirmohamed and aims to collect human tissue samples and detailed drinking and medical histories from patients with alcohol-related diseases. This data gather process will allow a number of translational questions to be answered using novel ‘omics, imaging and deep phenotyping approaches, for example. The Biobank will specifically focus on the identification of biomarkers (genetic and non-genetic) which may be associated with predisposition to or progression of alcohol-related disease, or which act as surrogate markers of drug efficacy and adverse reactions.
As alcohol misuse and abuse is a major burden for many societies it is important to translate science into policy through coherent and concise conclusions and recommendations. This work will be led by Professor Sir Ian Gilmore and Dr Lynn Owens. This theme will focus on how to best utilise data that is either already available or is easy to obtain at local and national levels to answer questions relating to alcohol availability, pricing and treatment provision. Research will also be conducted on factors that may have an indirect effect on alcohol consumption. This theme will work closely with those in the area of behaviour change to produce evidence relating to the effectiveness of interventions.
This theme is led by Dr Sudeep Pushpakom and Dr Andrew Thompson and aims to investigate existing and novel medications in the treatment of alcohol-use disorders, and explore predictors/moderators of treatment response. For example, this theme may explore factors that influence treatment adherence and efficacy; utilisation of pharmacotherapies in clinical practice; and mechanisms of action. The use of baclofen as a treatment option for alcohol dependence is of particular interest at present, especially for patients with liver damage when conventional pharmacotherapies are often contraindicated. This theme will use a range of basic, observational and clinical research to further understanding in this area.
This theme aims to augment clinical and translational research by aligning comprehensive clinical pathways to the research agenda. This work will be overseen by Dr Paul Richardson. It is important that relevant research can be translated into a clinical environment in an efficient and cost-effective manner. This theme will work towards implementing a single system that will complement both clinical research and practice. Additional factors of interest that will be explored include patient experience/ family experience, screening practices and understanding the true metrics when commissioning pathways/tools.
For further information on LARA please contact:
Andrew Thompson PhD
Wolfson Centre for Personalised Medicine
Molecular & Clinical Pharmacology
University of Liverpool
1st Floor, Block A: Waterhouse Building
1-5 Brownlow Street
Liverpool L69 3GL
Tel. 0151 795 5390