Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is a serious form of fatty liver disease estimated to affect nearly 16 million Americans today. Although the obesity- and diabetes-related disease has been considered preventable, until now it was largely untreatable. But experts say developments in the treatment of NASH are beginning to pick up momentum, with analysts predicting the market to reach $35 billion in the United States in the next few years, Business Insider reports.

NASH is set to surpass viral hepatitis as the No.1 reason for liver transplants by 2020. Eventually, the market for fatty liver disease treatment is expected to reach anywhere between $20 billion and $35 billion. But first, pharmaceutical companies will have to test their potential treatments for the disease’s various stages and have them approved—and competition is heating up. 

Researchers are currently working on imaging tools and blood tests for more efficiently diagnosing the condition (which for most people is asymptomatic in its early stages), novel strategies for tracking how fatty liver disease drugs are functioning in the body, reducing fat accumulation in the liver (a hallmark of the disease) and much more. Competition in the NASH treatment market includes smaller biotech companies like Madrigal, Genfit and Intercept as well as major drugmakers like Novo Nordisk, Gilead Sciences, Bristol Myers Squibb and Pfizer. The most advanced trials are expected to publish late-stage results by 2019. 

Researchers are also beginning to uncover incredible insights into the genetic and microbial factors that drive fatty liver disease that may help with everything from diagnosis to prevention and eventually a cure.

To learn more about the emerging treatment landscape, read the full article here.