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Asthma drug could prevent liver disease, reduce need for transplants

By Chukwuma Muanya, Assistant Editor   |   14 October 2016   |   2:48 am
asthmatic patient

asthmatic patient

A drug commonly used for the prevention of allergies and asthma someday could find new use in preventing liver disease and reducing the need for transplants, according to new research published in the October 2016 edition of the scientific journal Hepatology.

Led by a team of researchers at Baylor Scott & White Research Institute in conjunction with the Central Texas Veteran’s Health Care System and Texas A&M Health Science Center, the study found that cromolyn sodium successfully blocked a series of cells that trigger liver scarring (known as fibrosis), which in advanced cases can lead to cirrhosis.

The finding could most impact patients with primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC), a chronic disease that damages bile ducts and causes serious liver damage. The disease has no effective treatments and leaves patients with few options beyond a liver transplant.

In particular, the study evaluated mast cells (MCs), which are known to infiltrate and multiply after liver injury and release histamine, which causes fibrosis. Using a model that mimics human PSC, researchers found that the drug successfully blocked that histamine, which in turn reduced fibrosis.

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