A step forward
“Obesity is a silent pandemic with an expected prevalence rate that will exceed 50% globally by 2030, of which 25% of the adults have fatty liver and approximately 6.5% with NASH, a progressive form of fatty liver,” said Kalyan Ram Bhamidimarri, MD, chief of hepatology and associate professor of clinical medicine at the University of Miami, who was not involved in the research. “Liver biopsy is the current clinical standard to diagnose NASH, but relying on an invasive procedure like liver biopsy that is fraught with several risks in a consistently growing volume of individuals with obesity is unsustainable.
“So, there is an unmet need to diagnose NASH without invasive procedures such as liver biopsy,” he said. He pointed out that many of the alternatives to liver biopsy, such as liver stiffness measurements and scoring systems, pose their own difficulties.
On the other hand, he noted that “blood-based tests that correlate well with liver biopsy, the so-called wet biomarkers or liquid liver biopsy, are easier to perform, accessed widely, and could be tested frequently to assess efficacy of therapies.”
The study was funded by Elucidating Pathways of Steatohepatitis (EPOS Horizon 2020), Stratification of Obese Phenotypes to Optimize Future Obesity Therapy (SOPHIA IMI), Metadeq Inc., and support from the Transcampus Initiative. The study authors declared various competing interests, including some who serve as an advisor or stock option holder for Metadeq Limited. Dr. Bhamidimarri reported no relevant conflicts of interest.
Help your patients understand their risks for NASH by sharing AGA patient education at www.gastro.org/NASH.