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Date: 18 December 2014

Time: 20:56

Liver disease research focus of BBC show

Story posted/last updated: 01 August 2013

World class research by QEHB doctors into a lethal and increasingly common form of liver disease is to be the subject of a BBC Radio 4 programme.

The Trust, working closely with the University of Birmingham, is one of the world’s leading centres for researching and treating liver disease.

BBC presenter Dr Mark Porter met liver consultants Dr Gideon Hirschfield and Dr Philip Newsome, as well as pathologist Prof Stefan Hubscher, for the Inside Health programme.

He was given an insight into the specific difficulties of detecting non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), which is estimated to affect one in five adults in the UK and four in five of adults who are obese. If untreated it can lead to liver scarring and death.

The programme examines the nature of NAFLD, including the symptoms, effects and treatments.

Dr Porter visited QEHB itself and the Liver BRU, a dedicated liver research facility located on the hospital site. The BRU is funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).

Patients are normally seen at the hospital for their regular clinics, with specialist research activity carried out at the BRU or the Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Facility, which is also on the hospital site and funded by NIHR.

Among the ground-breaking work underway is the world’s largest randomised trial of stem cell treatment in patients with liver cirrhosis, led by Dr Newsome.

“We’re leading the country on this particular research and we couldn’t do that without the Wellcome Trust CRF and the BRU,” says Dr Newsome.

Professor David Mutimer is also leading work on new treatments for hepatitis, and Professor Richard Lilford has recently improved our understanding of testing for liver disease. Other work at the BRU is looking at how the immune system can sometimes attack the liver, while researchers are also examining the use of biomarkers to diagnose liver disease and liver cancer.

QEHB is run by University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust (UHB), which has formed the Birmingham Health Partners (BHP) with the University of Birmingham to co-ordinate this type of complex research activity.

UHB Chief Executive Julie Moore said the recognition of the Birmingham team was well deserved.

“We have worked extremely hard to establish Birmingham as a centre of excellence for treating patients with liver conditions. The BRU is an example of how Birmingham Health Partners is producing world-class research to improve patient care.

“I’m delighted the BBC are looking at the work done on non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, because it is a condition which is affecting more and more people, and we’re proud of the cutting-edge work of our researchers.

“We also recognise the value of the support from the NIHR, without which this sort of work simply could not happen.”

The Inside Health programme is due to be broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on July 31 at 21:00 and repeated the following day.

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