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Possible liver failure prevention drug unveiled

Thursday August 16th, 2018

A promising new treatment has been found for sudden liver failure, according to research reported last night.

Dr Tom Bird of the University of Edinburgh, UK, and colleagues investigated deterioration of the liver after injury and found it undergoes a process called senescence, in which it loses its natural ability to regenerate.

They then used mice to test a new class of drugs designed to halt this process, which normally occurs gradually with increasing age. The drugs were originally developed as anti-cancer therapy, and proved effective at protecting the liver.

Details were published last night (15 August) in Science Translational Medicine.

"Through our research so far we have identified a potential treatment for acute liver failure, which may prevent the need for transplant," said Dr Bird.

"Most of the patients we see with this type of critical liver injury are otherwise physically healthy, and have accidentally or, often, sadly, intentionally taken an overdose of paracetamol."

He added: "New treatments like this which set liver regeneration free and may prevent the need for liver transplants, would make a huge difference for these patients. They may also allow us to use the livers available for transplantation for other patients with different forms of liver disease who might otherwise die whilst waiting for a suitable liver donor."

The team now call for further studies on the potential of the new drugs in the clinic on patients with liver failure.

Bird, T. et al. Science Translational Medicine 15 August 2018

http://stm.sciencemag.org/lookup/doi/10.1126/scitranslmed.aan1230

Tags: A&E | Internal Medicine | Pharmaceuticals | UK News

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