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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Fatty liver disease on the rise in Puerto Rico

By The Star Staff

By The Star Staff

Fatty liver disease is becoming more common in Puerto Rico, affecting one in five adults on the island.

José F. Rodríguez Orengo, executive director of FDI Clinical Research, warned that if fatty liver disease is not controlled, it can become more prevalent than severe liver disease and a major cause of death.

FDI Clinical Research has a group of scientists researching new treatments for Puerto Rican patients. Rodríguez Orengo noted that nonalcoholic fatty liver disease refers to a group of conditions where fat accumulates in the liver, in people who do not necessarily ingest alcohol. “From FDI Clinical Research we carry out daily critical studies of drugs used to find aid for fatty liver conditions and prevent complications that trigger the development of cirrhosis, cancer or the death of people who suffer from this disease,” the medical scientist said.

In their most recent contribution to the worldwide clinical study, researchers found data demonstrating the efficacy of the study drug efruxifermin (EFX) in patients with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.

The researchers found that groups treated with a 50-milligram (mg) dose of EFX had 76% improvement in their fatty liver condition. Meanwhile, in patients who did not receive the product (placebo), an improvement of 15% was recorded.

Even more important, liver fibrosis improved by 41% in those patients with EFX (50 mg) versus 5% in placebo patients. Also, EFX-treated patients experienced statistically significant improvements in glycemic control, lipoproteins, and body weight.

“The study results are an achievement and represent hope for patients diagnosed with nonalcoholic fatty liver in Puerto Rico and patients with risk factors, who suffer from obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes,” Rodríguez Orengo said. “Although we do not have an approved treatment, these results bring us closer to the goal of offering health and quality of life alternatives to our patients.”

The doctor noted that FDI Clinical Research continues to offer the FibroScan study free of charge to patients with risk factors for developing nonalcoholic fatty liver to assess liver function in an accurate and non-invasive way, whose procedure lasts between 15 and 25 minutes.

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