Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Saving lives following acetaminophen overdose: New approach could help

Date:
April 29, 2014
Source:
Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB)
Summary:
Mice have been cured of acute liver failure after an overdose of acetaminophen, the active ingredient in Tylenol, and one of the most commonly used drugs in the United States, by boosting the liver’s ability to heal itself, researchers report. “Acetaminophen is a great drug when taken in appropriate doses; however, it’s also known to quickly cause life-threatening liver injury when a person takes too much,” said the study's lead investigator.

A new technique could offer a lifesaving treatment option for patients with acute liver failure following an overdose of acetaminophen, a condition that accounts for half of all acute liver failure cases in the United States annually.

Acetaminophen, the active ingredient in Tylenol and a component of more than 600 other over-the-counter and prescription medications, is one of the most commonly used drugs in the United States. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently lowered the maximum dosage allowed in prescription medications and imposed new labeling requirements in response to concerns over the risk of accidental overdose.

"Acetaminophen is a great drug when taken in appropriate doses; however, it's also known to quickly cause life-threatening liver injury when a person takes too much," said Udayan Apte, Ph.D., assistant professor of pharmacology, toxicology and therapeutics at the University of Kansas Medical Center and the study's senior investigator. "I think our approach has tremendous potential for saving the lives of overdose patients with severe liver failure."

More than 50,000 emergency room visits annually in the United States are associated with acetaminophen overdose. Although only a fraction of those cases lead to acute liver failure, those patients who suffer liver failure often die from it because there are few treatment options available.

The researchers were able to successfully cure mice that had received fatal doses of acetaminophen by boosting the liver's natural ability to heal itself. "While it is known that liver regeneration plays a key role in recovery for those who survive an acetaminophen overdose, we did not know the mechanisms of how that works. This study is the first comprehensive analysis of mechanisms involved in liver regeneration after acute liver failure from acetaminophen overdose," said Bharat Bhushan, a doctoral candidate at the University of Kansas Medical Center who worked on the research.

Among organs, the liver is unique for its ability to regenerate following an injury, a phenomenon seen in both mice and humans. The team first conducted a set of experiments to pinpoint why the liver does not regenerate naturally after a high dose of acetaminophen. They revealed the source of the breakdown to be a protein known as beta-catenin. By boosting beta-catenin production in mice given high doses of acetaminophen, the researchers were able to speed up the liver's regenerative capabilities and counteract the deadly cascade of events that would typically lead to liver failure. The mice completely recovered.

"A similar approach should also work in humans," said Apte. The team's next step is to refine the technique to see if it can be safely applied in human patients. They are also working to develop biomarkers that doctors can use to monitor a patient's liver recovery during treatment.

Apte said the study is unique because it focuses on enhancing the liver's natural recovery capability instead of attempting to directly address the damage done by the drug overdose, which is where most previous research has focused. "We think the opportunity for intervention lies in understanding the mechanisms of recovery rather than the mechanisms of injury," said Apte. "Acetaminophen has been studied for two decades, but nobody has ever looked at how it relates to the regeneration process."

Acetaminophen presents a high risk of overdose precisely because it is found in so many medications and is used by everyone from babies to the elderly. Accidental overdoses often occur when a person takes multiple medications containing the drug without realizing they are exceeding the total dosage limit. Adults should take no more than 4 grams in 24 hours.

The current therapy for acetaminophen overdose requires treatment to be started within a few hours of an overdose, which is not possible in many cases. The only other option is a liver transplant, which can be difficult to arrange in the short time available in cases of acute liver failure.

Bharat Bhushan presented the findings during the Experimental Biology 2014 meeting on Tuesday, April 29.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB). "Saving lives following acetaminophen overdose: New approach could help." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 April 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140429133504.htm>.
Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB). (2014, April 29). Saving lives following acetaminophen overdose: New approach could help. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140429133504.htm
Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB). "Saving lives following acetaminophen overdose: New approach could help." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140429133504.htm (accessed July 24, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) The FDA approved Targiniq ER on Wednesday, a painkiller designed to keep users from abusing it. Like any new medication, however, it has doubters. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Doctor At Forefront Of Fighting Ebola Outbreak Gets Ebola

Doctor At Forefront Of Fighting Ebola Outbreak Gets Ebola

Newsy (July 24, 2014) Sheik Umar Khan has treated many of the people infected in the Ebola outbreak, and now he's become one of them. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Condemned Man's US Execution Takes Nearly Two Hours

Condemned Man's US Execution Takes Nearly Two Hours

AFP (July 24, 2014) America's death penalty debate raged Thursday after it took nearly two hours for Arizona to execute a prisoner who lost a Supreme Court battle challenging the experimental lethal drug cocktail. Duration: 00:55 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
China's Ageing Millions Look Forward to Bleak Future

China's Ageing Millions Look Forward to Bleak Future

AFP (July 24, 2014) China's elderly population is expanding so quickly that children struggle to look after them, pushing them to do something unexpected in Chinese society- move their parents into a nursing home. Duration: 02:07 Video provided by AFP
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:
from the past week

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