Fatty Liver Disease: Research
1. Tocovid SupraBio to bring new hope to NAFLD patients
A Malaysia-based international pharmaceutical company named Hovid discovered a tocotrienol supplement named Tocovid SupraBio, which can effectively achieve remission of the liver disease that affects 90 percent of diabetics and yet has no effective cure. Tocotrienol is a rich source of vitamin E and it has been clinically proven to protect the liver. A double blind clinical study was carried out at University Sains Malaysia in which 56 NAFLD patients volunteered to participate. They were given 200 mg of Tocovid SupraBio twice daily or identical placebo pills twice daily. The results were remarkable: 13 out of 26 volunteers that were given the tocotrienols became NAFLD negative at the end of a year. There have been no side effects reported from the drug as of now. The FDA has labeled the tocotrienols found in palm oil, from which the drug is prepared, as GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe). It is already commercially available in several countries including Nigeria and Malaysia, and will soon be made available in the US.
Via: Hovid Pharmaceuticals
2. Mortality and NAFLD
A new study by John Hopkins University researchers have found that patients with NAFLD may not have diminishing longevity and poor overall health. This comes as a relief to the medical community since a large part of the population (25 percent) suffers from the disease. The research had originally been conducted to determine the percentage by which NAFLD increased mortality in its patients. The study included 11,375 adults between the ages of 20 and 74 years who were diagnosed with fatty liver disease. Their health was monitored for up to 18 years as part of a survey and “mortality” was classified by all causes including cancer, cardiovascular disease and liver disease.
After the results were adjusted for sex, race, physical activity, education, smoking, alcohol consumption, BMI and several other criteria, the researchers found no evidence of increased risk of death. It is not known yet why NAFLD does not increase mortality. Some researchers speculate that fat accumulated in the liver may protect the body from cardiovascular and other diseases. However, there is more research required in this direction. The study has its limitations, since it was conducted with patients that had a heightened enzyme activity.
Via: John Hopkins University
3. Possible genetic cause found for fatty liver disease in children
A group of Yale researchers revealed in March 2012 that NAFLD in children might be a result of variations in their genes. In the study, 455 obese children and adolescents were tested for fasting triglycerides and lipoprotein particles. They were also genotyped. The results showed that a combination of the glucokinase regulatory protein (GCKR) and the genetic variant PNPLA3 makes children more susceptible to fatty liver disease. The problem of NAFLD among obese children had been a cause for concern in the medical community. Since the cause of the disease in children was unknown, there was no way to address the problem and find a cure. The only solution was to maintain a healthy lifestyle and suitable exercise in order to increase the chances of reversing the disease in its early stages. The new discovery can help researchers identify those at risk from fatty liver disease. In addition, it can even help to finally find a cure to treat the disease. However, more research is required in the area before the knowledge can be applied in clinics and medicines that can help patients of NAFLD.
Via: Yale University; Howard Hughes Medical Institute
4. New drugs to treat children with NAFLD
The National Institute of Health is conducting a study to find out if a drug named cysteamine will be able to treat children who have been diagnosed with NAFLD. The incidence of fatty liver disease in children is a new phenomenon that has left the medical community worried. It is one of the leading causes of chronic liver disease and often leads to liver transplants. The study hopes to recruit 160 young boys and girls with NAFLD to participate in the study. The children will be given cysteamine orally twice daily for a year. It is expected that more than 90 percent of the children who sign up will be overweight, though the study itself does not demand any minimum weight. The study was spurred by a preliminary trial on 11 children, which revealed that cysteamine might reduce liver damaging toxins and thereby improve the activity of liver enzymes. This can help to break up the fat in the liver and reverse the progress of the disease. Cysteamine is already approved by FDA as effective in the treatment of cystinosis. If successful, the study can open new avenues in treatment for this hitherto untreatable disease. Children find it difficult to follow a weight loss plan; therefore, a positive result can come as a boon to them.
Via: National Institute of Health
5. Actos, a possible panacea for fatty liver disease
The University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio has conducted a study that revealed that a drug that is already in use to treat diabetics might show positive results in the treatment of fatty liver disease as well. In the study, 55 patients diagnosed with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease as well as type-2 diabetes were put through a diet plan focusing on liver health. The participants were divided into two groups, one of which was given a low calorie diet to follow, in addition to consumption of Actos. The other group took a low calorie diet and an identical placebo. After 6 months, both groups showed significant improvements in liver inflammation. However, the group that took Actos saw 50 percent reduction in accumulated liver fat. Enhanced insulin activity was also seen. The study can give hope to NAFLD patients who do not have diabetes as well. Actos contains a compound called pioglitazone that is effective in treating non-insulin dependent diabetes. It was the tenth most popular drug in the US in 2008. A study revealed that it may increase the risk of bladder cancer, and since then many countries have withdrawn the drug. The FDA is still experimenting on the drug and has not banned it. It recommends a careful and well-advised use of the drug until further research finds more conclusive evidence on its safety. If the research of the FDA and the further independent research on the drug can show positive results in the treatment of fatty liver disease, it can be life saving for patients and provide them with a far better quality of life than they can imagine in the present scenario.
Via: University of Texas Health Science Center