EU-funded researchers have developed a carbon with tiny pores that could prevent infection of livers by intestinal bacteria - a common complication in chronic liver disease. The material could improve patients' quality of life and chances of survival, while reducing the use of antibiotics in managing the disease.
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Chronic liver disease affects about 29 million Europeans, according to the World Health Organisation. As populations become older and more obese, this is set to increase. A frequent complication is infection of the liver by intestinal bacteria and its damage by the bacterial toxins, which can lead to liver failure.
Antibiotics can treat each infection but eventually the bacteria become resistant, and the treatment is expensive for healthcare systems. Researchers in the CARBALIVE project have developed a safe, cheap alternative a carbon with tiny pores designed to absorb bacterial toxins in the intestine before they enter the bloodstream.
Because the toxins are prevented from reaching the liver, patients’ liver disease should stabilise when they start using the product. The new material, named Yaq-001, is expected to reduce fat in the liver, high blood pressure around the liver and the severity of liver failure, while increasing patients’ ability to resist infection. Overall, patients could have a better quality of life, increased long-term survival and even a chance to go back to work.
Studies in CARBALIVE confirm that the material is safe and could benefit patients as intended. Research has progressed quickly. The project will now focus on producing suitable samples of the product for clinical trials. The material is delivered to patients in the form of beads. The team have already developed a manufacturing process and quality management system to produce clinical-quality beads, expected to be operational from September 2017.
If the CARBALIVE trials are successful, the project team will then work to interest commercial manufacturers in developing Yaq-100 further. Indeed, the carbonised resin could have other applications. It is already being used in the project ALIVER, which is developing a patented liver dialysis device, DIALIVE