By 2020 a new dialysis technology could be available and extend the lives of people with cirrhosis long enough for their liver to start recovering or to find a donor for a liver transplant.

The ALIVER consortium has begun to test innovative DIALIVE technology, which was invented at UCL and produced by Yaqrit. The ALIVER project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme after 25 years of experimental research and data collection on extracorporeal perfusion as a therapy option in liver failure.

Liver dialysis could have a major impact: at present the incidence of cirrhosis in the UK is increasing, with alcohol-related liver disease and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease fast becoming the commonest causes.

"Many people with cirrhosis do not realise it"

Within five years of the occurrence of cirrhosis, about 50% patients are admitted to hospital with liver-related complications such as infection, bleeding in the gullet, accumulated fluid in the abdomen or confusion.

Currently many people with cirrhosis do not realise it, and in 40% of cases are only diagnosed in A&E. Jalan says: “About 30% of those develop acute on chronic liver failure, characterised by the failure of one or more organs such as the liver or brain, and about 30% will die within 28 days of hospital admission. About 40% die within three months.”

“The new DIALIVE technology could change the outlook for patients with cirrhosis for whom there is currently little specific treatment except supportive therapy,” says Rajiv Jalan, Professor of Hepatology at the Institute for Liver and Digestive Health, Division of Medicine,University College London and Honorary Consultant at the Royal Free Hospital.

"DIALIVE incorporates two filters aimed at removing the toxins that accumulate in patients with liver failure"

DIALIVE incorporates two filters aimed at removing the toxins that accumulate in patients with liver failure. “The theory is that this should enable the liver to regrow, or keep the patient alive long enough for a liver transplant,” says Jalan.

Two clinical trials will now asses its safety and efficacy. Provided its safety trial succeeds, its efficacy will be tested in eighteen locations in Europe including London, Nottingham and Birmingham.

Jalan says: “Trial participants will be selected by doctors, but patients (and their families) can ask to be considered for inclusion.”

 

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This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 733057.