GALWAY, Ireland, June 16, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Conatus Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ:CNAT) announced today that a poster addressing preclinical results with the company's lead pancaspase inhibitor, emricasan, will be displayed from 12:45 p.m. to 2:15 p.m. IST today at the 19 th International Symposium on Cells of the Hepatic Sinusoid in Galway, Ireland, June 14-17, 2017. The poster, entitled, "The pancaspase inhibitor emricasan improves the phenotype of hepatocytes from human and rat cirrhotic livers without evidence of hepatotoxicity," will be presented by senior author Jordi Gracia-Sancho, Ph.D., Head of the Liver Vascular Biology Research Group, IDIBAPS Biomedical Research Institute & CIBEREHD, Barcelona, Spain. A copy of the poster will be available after the opening of the poster session in the Data section of the Conatus website at www.conatuspharma.com. Human cirrhotic hepatocytes cultured in an advanced fluidic device that mimics the liver sinusoid, and treated in vitro with emricasan for 24 hours, exhibited higher albumin (+60%) and urea (+17%) production than vehicle-treated control hepatocytes, suggesting improved synthetic capacity. Similarly, hepatocytes isolated from cirrhotic rats after treatment with emricasan for 7 days showed increased production of urea (+160%) and albumin (+156%), and higher cytochrome P450 3A4 (a liver enzyme) activity (+101%) compared with hepatocytes isolated from vehicle-treated control cirrhotic rats, suggesting improved synthetic and detoxification capacity. Improvements in the hepatocyte phenotype were maintained as evidenced by sustained expression of the master regulator HNF4a and selected transporters. Cell viability was maintained; levels of transaminases and LDH in cell media (in vitro) were normal; and biochemical tests in treated rats (in vivo) were improved, indicating no hepatotoxicity with emricasan in either human or rat hepatocytes. Dr. Gracia-Sancho stated "the results from this study demonstrate the hepatoprotective effects of emricasan in a pre-clinical model of cirrhosis and importantly in cells from cirrhotic patients, altogether adding a significant piece of data to our understanding of the molecular mechanisms of this drug. Considering these data, and those presented at the last Liver Meeting demonstrating the beneficial effects of emricasan improving liver fibrosis and portal hypertension in a rat pre-clinical model of cirrhosis, its clinical evaluation for the treatment of chronic liver disease is highly encouraged."