Diabetes drug may combat fatty liver disease

By: Emily Lunardo | Health News | Saturday, November 21, 2015 - 09:00 AM

medicationNew research has found a type 2 diabetes drug may be beneficial in combating fatty liver disease in some patients. The findings, from the University of Birmingham, suggest the diabetes drug can offer new treatment for patients with fatty liver disease – where there is currently no licensed treatment.

The trial took place over 48 weeks where patients were given liraglutide. Four of the 10 participants experienced clearance of non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) from their livers. This finding was higher than compared to the placebo group where only one in 10 saw clearances of NASH. Furthermore, those in the active ingredient group experienced greater weight loss while on the medication.

Liraglutide is a type 2 diabetes medication that is injected by the patient, so it can be done at home.

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease describes a wide range of conditions that are caused by a build-up of fat within the liver. It is the most common form of liver disease within the U.S., and affects roughly 20 percent of the population.

Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis is a serious form of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and can increase the risk of total liver failure where a liver transplant must be done. NASH can be a silent killer because it does not present itself with many symptoms and individuals generally feel well even if they have it.

Lead investigator, Professor Philip Newsome, said, “Because there are no licensed treatments available for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, there is a large unmet clinical need. It is becoming ever more important that we find a treatment as the occurrence of fatty liver disease continues to grow – hand in hand with the problem of obesity. This study provides confidence in the further exploration of this class of drugs in NASH.”


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