The researches find that the detecting liver disease decades before it can become fatal has been developed by a team of scientists at the University of Dundee and NHS Tayside. But It comes as clinicians warn of a “ticking time bomb” of alcohol-related and obesity-related liver diseases. Liver disease, which is notoriously asymptomatic; has become the second most common cause of death in under 65 year-olds in the UK.
Detecting liver disease
Unlike other common causes of death which have begun to decline in recent years; the age-standardised mortality rates for liver disease have risen by nearly 600 percent since the 1970s. Therefore Liver function is routinely investigate by testing blood samples requested by GPs. Results commonly show abnormal liver function but this is often under-investigated due to the many different and complex reasons for an abnormal result.
This misses the opportunity to diagnose and treat liver disease at an early stage. Professor John Dillion, Consultant gastroenterologist and hepatologist, said; Because “Around 800 people die from liver disease every year in Scotland and the wards are full of liver failure in ways that they just weren’t two decades ago. Liver disease is a silent killer; it creeps up on you. So it is crucial that we find a way to detect it earlier and switch off this ticking time bomb.”
The opportunity to diagnose
The liver is a vital organ present in vertebrates and some other animals; it has a wide range of functions; a few of which are detoxification, protein synthesis; and production of biochemicals necessary for digestion. The liver is necessary for survival; there is currently no way to compensate for the absence of liver function. Therefore This organ plays a major role in metabolism and has a number of functions in the body, including glycogen storage, decomposition of red blood cells; plasma protein synthesis, hormone production, and detoxification.
It lies below the diaphragm in the thoracic region of the abdomen. Professor Dillon and consultant in biochemical medicine Dr. Ellie Dow worked with colleagues from the University of Dundee and NHS Tayside to develop the intelligent liver function tests (iLFTs) using the automated Blood Sciences laboratory infrastructure at Ninewells Hospital.
Blood Sciences laboratory
Using advances in laboratory technology, the team created the new iLFTs which see more tests automatically carried out on a patient’s blood sample if there is a suspected liver disorder or abnormal results with no clear explanation. Initial results from the trial showed a 44 percent increase in diagnosis of liver disease; giving patients earlier access to treatment. Professor Dillon said, “In looking at a large set of patient data from Tayside we noticed abnormal liver function tests popping up that were not fully investigated.