It isn't common to be able to report really important clinical research results where liver disease is concerned, but today is one of those days. Intermountain Hospital's lead researcher and associate director of the medical center's transplant program, Dr Charlton, announced their results at a Czech medical conference. The study found that seriously ill patients who exhibited a positive reaction to the drug sofosbuvir were also 50 times less likely to die from severe cirrhosis, a liver illness usually brought on by hepatitis C or alcoholism, than similar patients never given the drug.
Anyone who has followed clinical studies knows that progress is usually measured in small steps. You often see statements such as, "the trial was considered a success as the patients lived and average of 7 months longer". These are progress and a tiny beacon of hope for anyone dealing with liver disease and possibly facing death without a transplant but rarely offer life. This research is apparently the definitive study of whether it was justified to give end stage liver patients suffering from hepatitis C infection this very expensive drug so now that particular debate should be over.
This is of vital importance to any patient facing a transplant as it changes the equation of how many must die for lack of a liver. By diverting this large pool of patients from the process everyone who has a different problem will have a better chance to get the transplant and have a life. Truly big news for the transplant community.
There will be a major debate about cost as the drug is expensive and funding will not be easy but as the first effective non-transplant treatment for end stage liver disease it shines a bright light on the future as the research advances. As someone who has an interest in fatty liver disease and its consequences this should provide even more reason to engage in the ways to limit your disease. The longer you stay out of the critical phase the better your chances of being treatable at the end. Reason enough to go have a nice salad for supper.
Here is a link to the Story from KSL in Salt Lake
Researchers: Drug will 'dramatically reduce' need for liver transplants
A small side note, Dr Charlton is the hepatologist who prescribed the diet and lifestyle changes that I have used to address my own case of cirrhosis. If liver disease is a factor in your life, consider joining or donating to the foundation. As a non-profit we do depend on the support of the community.