Advances in Advanced Liver Disease

liverAs 2016 comes to a close and we ring in 2017, it’s clear that liver health continues to be better understood than ever before. Consider the following two developments that were reported at the end of last year: first, a new way to assess liver disease progression and second, new drug combinations that work for hepatitis C patients with cirrhosis.

For patients with liver disease, the health and function of the liver can be assessed in several ways: ranging from blood tests to invasive liver biopsy. Clearly, the less invasive methods are preferred by patients, physicians, and payers alike – but only if the results are robust.

Research presented at the 2016 American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases Annual Meeting offers a new option in non-invasive assessment of liver disease progression: a breath test. This test, called the 13C-Methacetin Breath Test (MBT), successfully distinguished cirrhotic patients from non-cirrhotic patients. This test offers a new and non-invasive way to monitor liver disease progression.

In further good news for those with cirrhosis, new research finds that 100% of patients with advanced cirrhosis can clear the hepatitis C virus through treatment with a combination of direct acting anti-virals. Research based on a 12-week regimen of daclatasvir (Daklinza), simeprevir (Olysio), and sofosbuvir (Sovaldi) in 40 patients resulted in all patients being cured. Of these study participants, 19 had cirrhosis and 21 had decompensated cirrhosis.

New techniques and treatment combinations continue to mean that virtually no hepatitis C patient is left behind. There is hope for nearly all of those with hepatitis C infection as we head into 2017. It’s an optimistic time for liver health.

Sources

Lawitz E, Poordad F, Gutierrez JA, et al. Simeprevir, daclatasvir and sofosbuvir for hepatitis C virus-infected patients with decompensated liver disease. J Viral Hepat 2016 Nov 23 [Epub ahead of print].

Breath test monitors chronic liver disease progression non-invasively. Presented at the 2016 American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases Annual Meeting, November 18, 2016.

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