Entries in Liver (8)


New Technology Could Improve Preservation of Livers for Transplant

Keith Brofsky/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A device created by researchers at the University of Oxford in Britain is capable of preserving human livers for up to 24 hours outside the body.

With the massive demand for liver transplants, the promising creation could make more of the organs available. Two transplant operations were performed at King's College Hospital using the device, and surgeons tell the Wall Street Journal that the patients are recovering well.

According to the Journal, the device attempts to recreate the environment inside the human body, maintaining temperature and pumping oxygen-rich blood cells into the organ. This allows the liver to continue burning sugar and producing bile as they normally would.

The current method of preserving livers involves cooling them significantly, which slows down decomposition, but does not stop it.

By preserving livers for longer periods of time, the device would allow the organs to be transported over longer distances, which is important considering the approximately 30,000 people on waiting lists for livers in Europe and the United States.

According to the Journal, researchers caution that the device needs further testing, but if regulators grant approval, the device could potentially be available by 2014.

While it is unclear how much of an improvement the device would be over cold storage in terms of future liver health, the news is significant.

Chris Sonnenday, a University of Michigan Health Systems transplant surgeon told the Journal, "If they show they can extend that time without adverse events in the recipient, that would be big....particularly in parts of the world where organs do travel longer to get to the recipient."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Woman's Radical Procedure Transforms Liver into Super Organ

Courtesy Allison Sarver(NEW YORK) -- Food started to bother Allison Sarver when she was 18 years old, giving her attacks of nausea and pain after meals. 

By the time she was 24, she would sneak out of her office after lunch to lie down in her car until the attacks passed.  By the end of that year, she was no longer able to eat or drink anything and had to rely on intravenous feeding to survive.

After years of alternately ignoring the symptoms and getting misdiagnosed with ailments such as irritable bowel syndrome, a doctor in Philadelphia finally told Sarver she had chronic pancreatitis, meaning her pancreas -- the organ that produces insulin and other enzymes necessary for digestion -- had become scarred and enflamed.  Unable to eat without pain, Sarver lost 30 pounds in two months and was found to be deficient in vitamins A, B, D and E.

While grateful for a diagnosis, getting treatment for her pancreatitis remained another matter.

"I was told, 'If we can't help you, no one else can help you,'" she said, referring to her team of doctors.  "I thought, 'There has to be a place that does [treats] this.'"

An Internet search led Sarver to the pancreas clinic at Johns Hopkins University Medical Center in Baltimore, which specialized in pancreatitis.

They had been performing a surgery on some of their patients that involved removing the entire pancreas, extracting its insulin-producing cells -- called islets -- and moving them to the patient's liver.  The liver would then take over the job of producing insulin to regulate blood glucose levels, and the patient would take enzyme pills to fulfill the pancreas' remaining jobs, which include aiding in the digestion of fats, carbohydrates and protein.

In April 2012, when Sarver first started seeing the Hopkins doctors, she couldn't imagine having her entire pancreas removed.  It was just too radical a procedure for her, she said.

As she alternated between broth diets, feeding tubes and intravenous nutrition over the next several months -- and still experienced pancreatic attacks and other complications -- Sarver waffled between ignoring her ailment to panicking about it.

Sarver's doctors performed surgery to remove her gallbladder, which sometimes alleviates pancreatitis, but it didn't work.  That was when Sarver realized it was time for the surgery she had previously avoided.  She didn't want to live another year, let alone the rest of her life, with chronic pancreatitis.

The surgery took eight hours and required her to stay at the hospital for 18 days in December 2012, but she says it was worth it.

"I feel like I've been given a gift, honestly," she said.  "Another chance at life."

Less than two months after the surgery, Sarver plans to celebrate her 25th birthday on Sunday by eating cake.  After progressing from broth to soft foods to stir fry to pizza, her only remaining hurdle is to reincorporate meat into her diet.  The pain is gone.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Why Baby Boomers Need Hepatitis C, HIV Testing

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Researchers took aim at baby boomers on Wednesday, urging this group of Americans to get tested for hepatitis C and HIV -- or possibly face liver failure.

Scientists at the AIDS 2012 conference in Washington, D.C., revealed data showing that those infected with HIV and hepatitis C are at very high risk for liver failure.  But hepatitis C infection is often a silent illness, as it can often go undetected since some patients experience little to no symptoms.

Health officials believe hundreds of thousands of new hepatitis C infections occurred annually between the 1970s and 1980s, most of them in the younger adults of the era -- the generation born from 1945 through 1965, known as the baby boomers.  The hepatitis C virus was not identified until 1989.

The new data follows recommendations issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in May urging that all baby boomers should be tested for hepatitis C.

As more effective treatments for hepatitis C have become available, it is important to identify patients with the virus so that complications such as liver failure and liver cancer can be prevented.  New medications on the market promise shorter treatment periods and fewer side effects for patients.

Dr. Victor Lo Re, an infectious disease researcher at the University of Pennsylvania, presented data that revealed even HIV patients who are treated for HIV with anti-retrovirals are at higher risk than other patients for liver failure.

“Everyone who is at risk should be tested for both hepatitis C and HIV,” he said.

Testing of baby boomers for hepatitis C could lead to 800,000 more boomers getting treatment and could possibly save more than 120,000 lives.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Fatty Liver Disease Rises Among Heaviest Teens

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) -- Nearly 10 percent of U.S. teens have nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, a largely silent accumulation of fat in their liver cells that puts them at risk for developing later cardiovascular disease and additional liver problems, new research has found.

Most of the increase in cases of NAFLD, a disease not brought on by alcohol-related liver damage, is occurring among the heaviest teens -- those considered obese, based on their height, weight and age, said lead researcher Dr. Miriam Vos, a pediatric gastroenterologist at Emory University in Atlanta.

"We tried to see where the increase was happening and it looks like it's happening in the obese group," she said.

But ill health is not inevitable for obese teens whose livers already have sustained damage, said Vos, an assistant professor of pediatrics.  "We think that liver disease is reversible, particularly for a teenager if they can make substantial changes and improve their weight," she added.

Vos determined that the prevalence of fatty liver among U.S. teens has more than doubled in the past two decades, from 3.6 percent to 9.9 percent, outpacing the rise in teenage obesity during that time and suggesting obesity is only a partial explanation for a rise.  Vos' findings come from health data collected for 10,359 adolescents who participated in the National Health and Examination Survey (NHANES) between 1988 and 2008.

Even without fully understanding why numbers are up, "this is a disease that definitely needs attention.  We need programs that focus on prevention of both obesity and fatty liver disease," said Vos, who is scheduled to present her findings Monday at Digestive Disease Week in San Diego, an annual gathering of nearly 16,000 physicians, researchers and academics.

The increase in fatty liver and its associated risks provide strong support for "recommendations to screen for NAFLD in obese adolescents," Vos and her colleagues concluded.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Study: Liver Transplant Can Give Some Alcoholics a Second Chance

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(PARIS) -- Early liver transplantation can improve survival in patients with a first episode of severe alcoholic hepatitis who aren't responding to medical therapy, according to a study by French researchers released Wednesday.

A six-month abstinence from alcohol is usually required before patients with acute alcoholic hepatitis are considered for liver transplantation, but some doctors want to rethink the rule.

Only 30 percent of those who do not respond to treatment live beyond six months and most die within two months, according to the study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

With supportive families, no other severe medical conditions and a commitment to future abstinence, patients can do well, the study revealed.

But study authors say that although early liver transplantation is "attractive," many doctors are reluctant to treat patients with alcoholism because they are "responsible for their illness" and are likely to resume drinking.

Alcoholic hepatitis, or inflammation of the liver, is a potentially fatal condition that can be a "red flag" that cirrhosis of the liver may soon follow, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).  The NIAAA says up to 70 percent of all alcoholic hepatitis patients will develop cirrhosis, a scarring of the liver that is a major cause of death in the United States.

But those who stop drinking can have a complete recovery from alcoholic hepatitis and a liver transplant can save their lives.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Beat Fat, Sugar Addiction; Detox Liver to Lose Weight

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Do you feel like you can't lose weight because you can't stop eating cakes, cookies and French fries?  If you can't beat your cravings, you could be addicted to sugary and fatty foods, and to kick your addiction, you have to detox your liver, according to Dr. Mehmet Oz of The Dr. Oz Show.

"Sugary and fatty foods affect the pathways to the brain in the same way as heroin or cocaine," Oz said.  "Sugar acts directly in the brain to inhibit the effect of leptin and increased appetite so you never feel full.  So then you keep eating, and you become leptin-resistant."

"What you need to do is break the addiction by detoxing the liver, which has stopped metabolizing fat properly.  Sugar consumption causes fat to build up in liver cells, which decreases the liver's ability to metabolize fats and sugars and detoxify your body," he added.

Oz told ABC News the following four steps for detoxing your liver:

Step 1: Replace all grains with cruciferous vegetables like broccoli or cauliflower for one week, and bulk up on foods from the allium family -- garlic, chives, leeks -- because they are full of flavonoids.

Step 2: For withdrawal, take a Vitamin B complex to help with carbohydrate cravings and 1,000 mg a day of chromium picolinate to help with sugar withdrawal.

Step 3: Eat meat in a four-to-one ratio, meaning four portions of white meat, fish or tofu to one portion of red meat).  Also eat leafy greens and citrus fruits that contain vitamin C to boost your innate antioxidant system.

Step 4: Address emotional eating. Emotional hunger is sudden, while physical hunger is gradual.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Bioartificial Livers Bring Researchers Closer to Solution for Organ Donor Shortages

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(BOSTON) -- Researchers say they are close to their goal of "creating completely bioartificial livers" by applying human liver cells to animal liver supporting structures -- or scaffolds, according to MedPage Today.

As the number of patients in need of organ transplants continues to grow, so does the problem of finding enough eligible organ donors.  At the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases meeting, Pedro Baptista of Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, NC said that recent statistics indicate that 109,000 people are waiting to receive organ transplants.  Of these patients, 16,000 are waiting to receive a liver.

During his talk, Baptista said that research has shown that "the cells really are able to recognize the native tissues and attach and engraft in those selected tissues."

The next step, he said, is to attempt to transplant the new organs back into the animals to observe and test function and survival.

Though Baptista hopes to oneday see "bioengineered livers that will be suitable for [human] transplant," he is not able now to forecast when these organs might become an available option to the general population.  However, he does predict that pig livers might make acceptable candidates for human transplants.

In the meantime, MedPage reports that newly engineered livers may be used for "drug discovery and development."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Wake Forest Researchers Engineer Miniature, Functional Livers

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WINSTON-SALEM, N.C.) -- Researchers at the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine are at the cutting edge of bioengineering organ tissues.

In 2006, they implanted into human beings the first fully laboratory-engineered organ-bladder tissue.  Now researchers have for the first time successfully engineered miniature, functional livers from human liver cells.

Engineering organs is not new, and a liver has been “grown” before, but with animal, not human cells.  The researchers used an existing matrix of connective tissue and blood vessels onto which they “seeded” a mixture of cells including human liver precursor cells. These cells divided and grew around the existing matrix, and ultimately began to function like human liver cells.

The authors hope that this approach will be a step forward in liver bioengineering, and they plan to test if these livers can function after transplantation into an animal model. 

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio