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Study could help overdose patients

A treatment to limit liver damage following a paracetamol overdose could be a real candidate for development after researchers identified a protein that is linked to the condition.

A study by scientists at the University of Edinburgh found that overdose patients suffering the greatest liver damage have higher levels of the protein cyclophilin A in their urine.

They hope that such patients could benefit from the development of a treatment to block the harmful actions of cyclophilin A, and that doctors could determine a patient’s risk of liver failure by measuring levels of the protein.

Lead researcher Dr James Dear, a lecturer in clinical pharmacology at the University of Edinburgh said: “Around 30% of patients who have developed significant liver injury following a paracetamol overdose die.

“If we can find a way to block the protein cyclophilin A, we would hope to limit further damage to the liver. Alternatively, measuring levels of the protein could indicate straight away which patients will need a liver transplant.

“Waiting a number of days means that valuable time is lost in trying to find a suitable match. Even gaining an extra day or two could save a life.”

The findings are being presented at a meeting of the British Pharmacological Society.

Copyright Press Association 2008

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