The scope of drug discovery research has grown immensely in recent decades. Previously uncharted areas of discovery continue to emerge sparking inspiration and focus for scientists, organizations and even countries as a whole. One such research area that has gained momentum over the last 10 years is nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). NASH describes inflammation and damage of the liver caused by a buildup of fat. NASH is estimated to impact as much as 12% of the US population and is expected to become the leading cause of liver transplantation by 2020.
Though at this time there are no approved medications to treat NASH specifically, for the last 10 years scientists around the world have been increasingly researching treatments. Recently, I presented at the NASH New Drug Research and Development Symposium in Shanghai, China. My talk, NASH New Drug Discovery R&D Landscape Based on CAS Big Data discussed how data curated from SciFindern illustrates trends in research surrounding NASH and the possibilities the platform offers researchers to create their own customized research path, collaborate and execute discovery more efficiently.
Current trends in NASH research
There are three clear trends in published scientific research over the past decade: explosive growth of information volume, increasingly complex patent filings and growing interconnections between research fields. The growing body of published research on NASH reflects all of these trends as shown in the charts below.
Note the steep rise in published patent applications related to NASH in recent years. The corresponding volumes of chemical compounds and keyword concepts have increased rapidly as well. NASH research is remarkable in that it has accelerated very quickly relative to comparable fields, reflecting its importance and global impact.
Emerging leadership in NASH research
Twenty-five years ago there was little research being done on nonalcoholic steatohepatitis. Initial publications came from traditional research leaders like Japan and the United States, followed by China, whose contributions to the field have grown rapidly. From a patent perspective, data suggests China is relatively new to NASH research; however, a review of the broader literature shows that China's journal publishing on the subject started much earlier. Interestingly, France, Italy and Turkey have also recently gained traction with significant research in this space.
The figures below show leading countries in NASH research based on the volume of patent and journal publications.
Complexity and interconnectedness in NASH publications
There are more than 150,000 distinct chemical compounds that have been indexed by CAS scientists from global publications about NASH. Of those compounds, ~90,000 have been identified as having therapeutic indication potential. Though these compounds themselves are very important, what may be equally important to driving future innovation is the connections between them and the relationship between NASH and other diseases these compounds are known to effectively treat.
The analysis below highlights other diseases that are frequently co-indexed in publications about NASH. The size of the boxes indicates the volume of occurrence. As it has been found that certain drugs used to treat many of these connected diseases may also help in the management of NASH, this type of analysis can direct discovery scientists toward drugs more likely to have therapeutic potential for NASH, hopefully expediting the discovery of effective treatments.
Chart a leadership path in emerging fields with CAS
Emerging research areas create new spaces for innovation, but are very dynamic and can grow quickly. It can be hard to stay aware of the latest research and find quality information to guide your work because these new fields often do not yet have well-defined terminology, information sources or a clearly defined landscape. For these reasons, efficient research in emerging fields requires access to a broad and deep information solution such as SciFindern that provides answers and helps you make connections between disparate pieces of data. Contact us to learn more about how SciFindern can help your research flourish in emerging fields and beyond.