NIH action plan charts future challenges for liver disease research

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  • Developing standardized and objective diagnostic criteria of major liver diseases and their grading and staging. Standards will benefit clinical research on all types of liver disease, including the evaluation of new diagnostic and therapeutic agents.

  • Decreasing the mortality rate from liver disease. Improved means of prevention and treatment should enable a decrease of at least 20 percent in the age-adjusted death rates from liver disease in the United States.

    Liver disease is an important cause of sickness and death in the United States. According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), liver and biliary (gallbladder) disease, including liver cancer, accounts for about 46,000 deaths each year and ranks ninth in overall causes of death. Because of the high rates of liver disease, liver transplantation is now considered standard therapy for patients with end-stage liver disease, regardless of diagnosis. Currently, about 5,000 liver transplants are performed yearly in the United States at more than 120 medical centers. As a consequence of the limited supply of livers, there are more than 17,000 persons on the liver transplant waiting list and at least 1,500 will die annually while waiting.

    "Acute and chronic liver disease affects people of all ages, with the greatest burden among minority individuals and persons between the ages of 40 and 60," said Jay H. Hoofnagle, M.D., director, NIDDK's Liver Disease Research Branch. "The major focus of this Action Plan is to stimulate translation of basic research findings to practical and effective means of prevention and control of liver diseases, including such important conditions as hepatitis B and C, biliary atresia, liver cancer, alcoholic and nonalcoholic fatty liver, primary biliary cirrhosis, and autoimmune hepatitis. The explosion of knowledge about fundamental biology and genetics in the past 20 years now promises to provide

  • Contact: Marcia Vital
    NIH/National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

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