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Major study: Bioartificial liver reduces mortality by 44 percent in acute liver-failure patients

LOS ANGELES(EMBARGOED UNTIL APRIL 22, 2004) In a major study conducted at 20 centers in the United States and Europe, a bioartificial liver developed by researchers at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center reduced mortality significantly among patients suffering from acute liver failure, the dramatic loss of liver function that can cause death in days or even hours. Study results are published in the May issue of Annals of Surgery.

This is the first large-scale, prospective, randomized, multi-center trial examining the effectiveness of any artificial liver support. Currently, standard treatment consists of intensive, supportive care intended to keep patients alive long enough that the liver might recover spontaneously or a donor organ will become available for transplantation.

Acute liver failure is diagnosed when a massive loss of hepatic cells causes severe liver dysfunction and life-threatening complications within six months of the onset of symptoms. When this dysfunction occurs within the first eight weeks after onset, liver failure is termed "fulminant." When it occurs in the period between eight weeks and six months, it is "subfulminant" (or late-onset). In either case, few patients survive the resulting fluid buildup in the brain, catastrophic bacterial infections, multi-organ failure, blood-clotting abnormalities, respiratory problems, kidney failure or other potential complications. It is estimated, in fact, that up to 80 percent of patients will die unless they receive a liver transplant.

In the United States, the causes of many cases of acute liver failure are never identified, although precipitating factors can include toxic poisoning, medication interactions or overdoses, metabolic disorders, and some types of viral hepatitis.

Achilles A. Demetriou, MD, PhD, Chairman of Surgery at Cedars-Sinai and the study's principal investigator, has been pursuing treatments for acute liver diseases since 1976 when he began studying liver cel
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Contact: Sandra Van
sandy@vancommunications.com
1-800-880-2397
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center
22-Apr-2004


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