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Fat in the Wrong Place

Reverse Study offers new option for NASH liver disease

Among our five most vital organs, the liver is the only organ that is regenerative. That’s the good news if you have liver disease and it is caught early.

Most people know excessive drinking can lead to liver disease, but it also occurs in people who don’t drink or drink in moderation. In America, estimates are that 80 to 100 million people have non-alcoholic fatty liver disease – NAFLD. This condition can progress to a more severe form of the disease called NASH – nonalcoholic steatohepatitis. The majority of patients with NAFLD have simple steatosis – fat infiltration of the liver – but up to 30 percent of patients may have NASH.

NASH is called “silent liver disease” because most patients can live with the condition for several years with few or no symptoms. However, as a progressive disease, up to 25 percent of people with NASH may have cirrhosis.

Who is at risk for NASH?

People who are obese, have uncontrolled cholesterol levels, and have Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus, insulin resistance or pre-diabetes are at greater risk of developing NASH. A diet high in sugar – both sucrose and high fructose corn syrup – is also a risk factor. The disease occurs more frequently in middle age adults. Before becoming symptomatic, NASH is usually detected through blood work with liver enzymes or imaging studies which reveal fat in the liver.

How does it cause liver damage?

Over accumulation of fat in the liver disrupts the structure of the tissue by causing inflammation and the liver cells to balloon in size and shape. Over time, if left untreated, scarring will accumulate leading the patient to experience symptoms due to liver injury such as jaundice of the skin or eyes, itchy skin, swollen abdomen, abdominal pain, fatigue, dark urine, pale colored bowel movements, bloody stool and loss of appetite. The scarring can progress from steatohepatitis and liver fibrosis to cirrhosis. Even with cirrhosis, the liver will try to heal itself, but it becomes less effective at doing so the more scar tissue there is.

What treatments are available?

Currently, there are no FDA-approved medications available to treat NASH. The condition is treated with lifestyle changes of less fat, reduced caloric intake and more exercise. If the level of liver injury worsens or the symptoms cannot be stabilized and lead to liver failure, the only options are surgery to remove a portion of the liver or liver transplantation.

What is the Reverse Study?

Palmtree Clinical Research in Palm Springs is seeking volunteers to take part in an exciting clinical trial to evaluate an investigational oral medication which may reverse cirrhosis due to NASH by reducing inflammation and scarring in the liver. The “reverse study” is currently open and is for those with NASH/cirrhosis. A second trial will soon be enrolling NASH patients without cirrhosis. Participants will receive study-related care at no cost, compensation per visit and satisfaction in helping to advance medicine for people with NASH.

Contact Palmtree Clinical Research at (760) 778.7799 or to see if you qualify for this study.

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