Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Medication Effective For Acute Liver Failure In Early Stages Of Disease, Study Suggests

Date:
October 8, 2009
Source:
UT Southwestern Medical Center
Summary:
The antidote for acute liver failure caused by acetaminophen poisoning also can treat acute liver failure due to most other causes if given before severe injury occurs, researchers have found.

The antidote for acute liver failure caused by acetaminophen poisoning also can treat acute liver failure due to most other causes if given before severe injury occurs, UT Southwestern Medical Center researchers and their colleagues at 21 other institutions have found.

Related Articles


Acute liver failure occurs when cells in the liver die quickly, resulting in toxins being released into the bloodstream and brain. Patients often end up in a hepatic coma as a result of toxins not being cleared by the failing liver. Known causes of acute liver failure include autoimmune hepatitis, drug-induced liver injury, hepatitis A and B, and acetaminophen poisoning.

In a study published in the September issue of Gastroenterology, researchers found that acute liver failure patients in early stages of hepatic comas, when treated with the medicine N-acetylcysteine (NAC), were nearly 2.5 times more likely to survive than those treated only with a placebo.

"NAC is safe, easy to administer, doesn't require intensive care and can be given in community hospitals," said Dr. William M. Lee, professor of internal medicine at UT Southwestern and lead author of the study. "NAC is an excellent treatment for non-acetaminophen acute liver failure if the disease is caught early."

Acute liver failure affects about 2,000 people annually in the U.S., and 50 percent of those cases are caused by acetaminophen poisoning. Until this study, liver transplantation was the only treatment if the failure was from non-acetaminophen causes.

To test NAC's use in non-acetaminophen cases, researchers at 22 sites randomly assigned non-acetaminophen acute liver failure patients by the level of their coma, with those with mild to moderate coma in one group, and patients with more severe coma in the other group. Beginning in 1999 and continuing for eight years, 173 patients received either NAC or a placebo for 72 hours. Doctors recorded patient survival three weeks after they were placed on treatment.

Researchers found that 52 percent of acute liver failure patients in mild to moderate comas survived when treated with NAC, compared to just 30 percent of those treated with only a placebo. In patients experiencing more severe coma, treatment with NAC did not result in a significant difference in survival rates.

"That makes sense because patients with advanced comas typically die or get a transplant within a few days," said Dr. Lee, principal investigator of the Acute Liver Failure Study Group, a national consortium of liver centers formed in 1997 to increase research into the rare disease.

"This study establishes NAC as a treatment for non-acetaminophen acute liver failure patients in mild to moderate coma and provides the first glimmer of hope that something can help these direly ill patients," Dr. Lee said.

He said he will continue to study NAC as a therapy for acute liver failure not caused by acetaminophen poisoning to determine optimal dosing and duration.

Other UT Southwestern researchers involved in the study included Dr. Linda Hynan, professor of clinical sciences and psychiatry; Dr. Anne Larson, associate professor of internal medicine; and Dr. Joan Reisch, professor of clinical sciences and family and community medicine. Other Acute Liver Failure Group investigators involved in the study were from the University of California, Davis; the University of Michigan; Virginia Commonwealth University; University of California, San Francisco; Baylor University Medical Center; University of Nebraska; and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

The study was funded in part by the National Institutes of Health, the Food and Drug Administration, and the Northwestern Medical Foundation. The N-acetylcysteine used was supplied by Apothecon/Geneva Pharmaceuticals, a division of Bristol Myers Squibb and Cumberland Pharmaceuticals.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by UT Southwestern Medical Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

UT Southwestern Medical Center. "Medication Effective For Acute Liver Failure In Early Stages Of Disease, Study Suggests." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 October 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091008073316.htm>.
UT Southwestern Medical Center. (2009, October 8). Medication Effective For Acute Liver Failure In Early Stages Of Disease, Study Suggests. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091008073316.htm
UT Southwestern Medical Center. "Medication Effective For Acute Liver Failure In Early Stages Of Disease, Study Suggests." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091008073316.htm (accessed October 25, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

IKEA Desk Converts From Standing to Sitting With One Button

IKEA Desk Converts From Standing to Sitting With One Button

Buzz60 (Oct. 24, 2014) IKEA is out with a new convertible desk that can convert from a sitting desk to a standing one with just the push of a button. Jen Markham explains. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Protective Suits Being Made in China

Ebola Protective Suits Being Made in China

AFP (Oct. 24, 2014) A factory in China is busy making Ebola protective suits for healthcare workers and others fighting the spread of the virus. Duration: 00:38 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
WHO: Millions of Ebola Vaccine Doses by 2015

WHO: Millions of Ebola Vaccine Doses by 2015

AP (Oct. 24, 2014) The World Health Organization said on Friday that millions of doses of two experimental Ebola vaccines could be ready for use in 2015 and five more experimental vaccines would start being tested in March. (Oct. 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Doctor in NYC Quarantined With Ebola

Doctor in NYC Quarantined With Ebola

AP (Oct. 24, 2014) An emergency room doctor who recently returned to the city after treating Ebola patients in West Africa has tested positive for the virus. He's quarantined in a hospital. (Oct. 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins