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Liver disease

Diabetes treatment effective in liver disease

Almost two fifths of patients given liraglutide had resolution of the common liver disease called NASH.

Researchers have found that the glucagon-like peptide-1 analogue liraglutide – a treatment for type 2 diabetes – is also effective in Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), micrograph pictured

Source: Nephron / Wikimedia Commons

Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (micrograph pictured) could be treated with the diabetes drug liraglutide following the success of a small clinical trial 

Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is the most common cause of liver disease and is associated with a significant risk of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. However, there is currently no licensed treatment. 

Researchers from the University of Birmingham have found that the glucagon-like peptide-1 analogue liraglutide – a treatment for type 2 diabetes – is also effective in NASH. All 23 patients who received liraglutide injections for 48 weeks underwent liver biopsy; nine (39%) of these patients had histological resolution of NASH compared with two (9%) of 22 patients who received placebo (P=0.019). 

The researchers, who report their findings in the The Lancet (online, 18 November 2015)[1], note that improvements in glycaemic control and weight in the group taking liraglutide suggest the drug could also improve cardiovascular outcomes. 

The researchers conclude that extensive, long-term studies of liraglutide for NASH are warranted.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2015.20200181

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Supplementary images

  • Researchers have found that the glucagon-like peptide-1 analogue liraglutide – a treatment for type 2 diabetes – is also effective in non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), micrograph pictured

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