Patients wanted for fatty liver study

Published: Mar. 9, 2023 at 4:01 PM PST
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - When someone talks of liver disease, many may envision a person who has trouble with alcohol. That certainly can cause liver disease. But there’s another kind of fatty liver disease not caused by alcohol.

Called NASH, it impacts one in four Americans. Most of them don’t even know they have it. Those at risk have been diagnosed with Type Two Diabetes, Metabolic Syndrome, or may be overweight.

“It can progress to very serious forms of liver disease similar to the disease alcoholics get,” says Dr. Catherine McCarthy, Professor with the University of Nevada Reno School of Medicine Family Practice Department.

The Healthy Nevada Project hopes to gain a better understanding of NASH.

The project, which began back in 2016, asks Nevadans to donate their saliva so researchers can analyze individual DNA. The project has been looking for patients who have the BRCA gene--responsible for genetic breast and ovarian cancer. Lynch Syndrome which causes cancers throughout the body. And an inherited disease which puts patients at risk for pre-mature cardiovascular disease.

“It’s not just the typical high cholesterol that I thought it was,” Jordan Stiteler told us back in 2018 when she participated in the project. She was diagnosed with Familial Hypercholesterolemia or FH.

Healthy Nevada is also looking for locals to participate in a Fatty Liver Study once they are enrolled in their project.

This screening program will ask for a blood sample, and will determine a patient’s low, medium, or high risk for this disease and its progression.

“Unfortunately, there is no medically approved treatment for NASH at this time,” says Dr. McCarthy. But Dr McCarthy says this project can help doctors and scientists come up with a better understanding of the disease and later effective treatments for it.

Knowledge is power she says and knowing the risk can help prevent the disease from progressing.

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