There are many diseases and disorders that can cause the liver to stop functioning properly. Some of the different causes of liver disease include viral infection, alcohol or other environmental toxins, autoimmune disease and genetics. These contributing factors can lead to a variety of types of liver disorders, such as hepatitis, fatty liver disease, alcoholic hepatitis, cancer or cirrhosis.
The symptoms of liver disease can greatly decrease the quality of life for those afflicted and can even lead to death. Common symptoms can include abdominal pain, jaundice, digestive and metabolism problems, abnormal absorption of fats as well as nervous system disorders.
In the United States, there are more than 38,000 deaths each year attributed to chronic liver disease or cirrhosis. Liver disease is generally managed by slowing down disease progression, for some types with lifestyle changes such as eliminating alcohol, improving diet and exercising regularly and in other cases with anti-viral or immunosuppressive medications.
BRI scientists are focused on advancing knowledge and treatment options in the areas of genetic and metabolic liver diseases. Research at BRI focused on liver diseases includes:
Conducting clinical investigation and clinical trials in various chronic liver diseases in conjunction with the Liver Center of Excellence at Virginia Mason Medical Center. In addition, BRI scientists are also collaborating with industry to conduct pharmacotherapeutic trials in the area of hepatitis C, nonalcoholic steatohepatisis, primary biliary cirrhosis and primary sclerosing cholangitis.