Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New test detects cirrhosis of the liver in an early stage

08.03.2004


Ghent researchers have developed a new and easy method of detecting cirrhosis of the liver. This major finding helps predict the evolution of chronic liver disease, allowing physicians to start proper treatment early on. Patients suffering from this serious, progressive disease in its cirrhosis stage have a high chance of developing liver cancer. The test developed in Ghent permits frequent, non-invasive analyses to be carried out, through which the critical stages of the disease can be closely monitored.



Chronic liver disease: life-threatening and progressive

Millions of people worldwide suffer from chronic liver disease. The major causes are infection by one of the hepatitis viruses and excessive use of alcohol. The liver is a very complex organ, where more than 500 metabolic functions take place, including clearing toxic substances from our body and producing proteins that coagulate the blood following wounds. Liver problems have a high rate of incidence and - after cancer and cardiovascular disorders - they are the third cause of death among people between 40 and 65.


The most problematic aspect of chronic liver disease is liver fibrosis, in which connective tissue grows throughout the liver, disrupting the composition of this complex organ and, in time, its functioning as well. Depending on its cause and on the patient, liver fibrosis can evolve rapidly or slowly. There are several distinct stages. One of the final stages is cirrhosis of the liver. When a patient develops cirrhosis, the chance of liver cancer rises sharply (25 to 40 times higher than normal) and in a very advanced stage the liver is no longer able to function. The only possibility at that point is a liver transplant - an extremely complicated intervention.

Current treatment is problematic

In order to decide which treatment is appropriate for a particular patient with liver fibrosis, doctors need to know which stage the liver disease is in. As soon as cirrhosis has set in, they will want to start tracking the possible development of liver cancer, which can occur at any moment. Of course, early detection and appropriate treatment is vital. But this is precisely the problem. Today, the only way to detect cirrhosis is through a biopsy - where a tissue sample is taken by injecting a needle through the skin into the liver. Biopsy is not entirely risk-free and is very expensive (about 1500 euro per patient).

Ghent discovery enables quick, inexpensive test

VIB researcher Nico Callewaert and his colleagues in the team of Roland Contreras (Dept. for Molecular Biomedical Research, Ghent University) have developed a new method that only requires a little blood in order to detect the cirrhosis stage reliably. In a test group of patients, the researchers succeeded in detecting 70 – 80% of the early liver cirrhoses. Not a single patient was diagnosed incorrectly. The new test detects changes in the quantities of the various sugars that are produced by the liver, which occur in the transition from fibrosis to cirrhosis. The researchers have been able to measure the sugar changes quite accurately with advanced instrumentation that is already being used in clinical laboratories, but for genetic tests.

A hopeful future

The test is now being perfected. Through future collaborations with industry, the researchers hope to arrive at a test that is easy to use and that shows 100% specificity for cirrhosis of the liver. The test could then be used to follow people with chronic hepatitis C viral infection. Often, 10 years can pass between the first diagnosis and the development of cirrhosis of the liver. An annual test could quickly detect a change and be able to predict an early stage of cirrhosis. Nico Callewaert comments: ‘We hope to be able to alert patients when the chance of liver cancer increases sharply. At that moment, the doctor can test frequently for the presence of cancer cells and detect the cancer early enough so that the patient can quite possibly be helped.’

Ann Van Gysel | alfa
Further information:
http://www.vib.be

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Potential seen for tailoring treatment for acute myeloid leukemia
10.12.2018 | University of Washington Health Sciences/UW Medicine

nachricht UC San Diego researchers develop sensors to detect and measure cancer's ability to spread
06.12.2018 | University of California - San Diego

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Researchers develop method to transfer entire 2D circuits to any smooth surface

What if a sensor sensing a thing could be part of the thing itself? Rice University engineers believe they have a two-dimensional solution to do just that.

Rice engineers led by materials scientists Pulickel Ajayan and Jun Lou have developed a method to make atom-flat sensors that seamlessly integrate with devices...

Im Focus: Three components on one chip

Scientists at the University of Stuttgart and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) succeed in important further development on the way to quantum Computers.

Quantum computers one day should be able to solve certain computing problems much faster than a classical computer. One of the most promising approaches is...

Im Focus: Substitute for rare earth metal oxides

New Project SNAPSTER: Novel luminescent materials by encapsulating phosphorescent metal clusters with organic liquid crystals

Nowadays energy conversion in lighting and optoelectronic devices requires the use of rare earth oxides.

Im Focus: A bit of a stretch... material that thickens as it's pulled

Scientists have discovered the first synthetic material that becomes thicker - at the molecular level - as it is stretched.

Researchers led by Dr Devesh Mistry from the University of Leeds discovered a new non-porous material that has unique and inherent "auxetic" stretching...

Im Focus: The force of the vacuum

Scientists from the Theory Department of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science (CFEL) in Hamburg have shown through theoretical calculations and computer simulations that the force between electrons and lattice distortions in an atomically thin two-dimensional superconductor can be controlled with virtual photons. This could aid the development of new superconductors for energy-saving devices and many other technical applications.

The vacuum is not empty. It may sound like magic to laypeople but it has occupied physicists since the birth of quantum mechanics.

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

New Plastics Economy Investor Forum - Meeting Point for Innovations

10.12.2018 | Event News

EGU 2019 meeting: Media registration now open

06.12.2018 | Event News

Expert Panel on the Future of HPC in Engineering

03.12.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Small but ver­sat­ile; key play­ers in the mar­ine ni­tro­gen cycle can util­ize cy­anate and urea

10.12.2018 | Life Sciences

New method gives microscope a boost in resolution

10.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Carnegie Mellon researchers probe hydrogen bonds using new technique

10.12.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>