New drug improves liver health

7 October 2014

The results of a new study suggest that an experimental drug used to treat common liver disease could also be used to promote general health of the organ.

The Farnesoid X Receptor (FXR) Ligand Obeticholic Acid in NASH Treatment (FLINT) trial, funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), found that people with nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) who took obeticholic acid (OCA) had improved liver health during that period. 

It found that participants who took the experimental drug experienced reduced inflammation and fat in the liver and decreased body weight, compared to patients who were given a placebo. 

Published in the Lancet, the study provides insight that could influence further therapies for NASH, which is common and can be very serious, but has no current fully approved treatment.

Dr Averell Sherker, programme official for the NASH Clinical Research Network (NASH CRN), which performed the FLINT study, said that liver health improved by 45 per cent in people who took OCA, compared to 21 per cent of the placebo group.

"Although obeticholic acid did not eliminate liver disease in FLINT participants, it demonstrated a promising effect. Larger studies will be required to determine the drug's safety and efficacy," he said.

Posted by Jeanette Royston​

 

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