This means that physicians now have a powerful non-invasive tool to help screen for liver illnesses or gauge the severity of diagnosed liver conditions without biopsy (huge!). Fibronastics has recently announced a partnership with The American Liver Foundation to provide free LIVERFASt tests for individuals who qualify, and most insurance companies as well as Medicare will now cover the tests as well.
The accuracy of the test has been well established with medical studies going back to 2019 concluding that it is both “reliable and reproducible”. The scoring system is easy-to-understand and arms patients with clear & concise information to utilize over the course of their journey with liver disease.
As biopharma continues to search for effective medical treatments, LIVERFASt will become a critical tool in the early detection of NAFLD & NASH.
Many people living with Liver Disease have questions about the Covid-19 vaccine, including how effective it is and if there are any risks associated with it specifically related to Liver Disease. This article will attempt to summarize some of the publicly available information on vaccine efficacy and safety for those with Liver Disease. As always, you should consult with your doctor if you have specific questions or concerns.
Strong evidence that obesity is a major risk factor in Covid-19 severity and poses an increased risk of death has now been demonstrated across multiple studies around the world. The evidence all points to obesity as the preexisting condition with the largest impact on unfavorable outcomes, across all age groups.
The data is especially striking for younger adults, long thought to be at a much lower risk for serious illness from Covid-19. One NYU Langone study of 3,615 Covid patients under 60 years of age showed that “Patients with a BMI of 30-34 were twice as likely to get admitted to the hospital or to be admitted to acute care. Patients with a BMI of 35 or higher were twice as likely to be admitted to the hospital, and three times as likely to end up in the intensive care unit.”
A CDC study found that of its patients, “89% had at least one underlying condition, with obesity being the most common for those between 18 and 64.” A Chinese study showed that obesity tripled the risk of a severe case versus those of normal weights.
Data from UK hospitalizations is even more stark, showing that obesity and metabolic syndrome are associated with a 10 times increase in death. In an article entitled “Covid 19 and the elephant in the room”, Dr. Aseem Malhotra states it bluntly; “OBESITY, THE REAL KILLER BEHIND COVID”
Data from a set of studies in France recently published in The Lancet looked at the percentage of ICU patients with Covid that were obese versus the percentage of non-Covid ICU patients. It found a clearly higher rate of ICU admissions among obese patients for Covid vs other causes. This research is also anecdotally supported out of the NYC hospital data.
This blog has discussed the Obesity Epidemic many times before, and I’ve started examining some of the causes of it that are easier to control for. It was always clear that obesity & metabolic syndrome are important for far more than NASH, but this pandemic should serve as a clear wake-up call for the tens of millions of obese individuals around the world. We cannot hide from our health behind the well-intentioned shield of the Body Positivity movement. The warnings are now being shouted loud and clear:
Around this time last year there were a number of news articles declaring 2019 “The Year of NASH” . Four companies were due to release Phase 3 trial results. Optimism was surging and awareness was beginning to catch on. So how did 2019 turn out, and what does the outlook for NASH in 2020 look like?
A year later:
Gilead had several Phase 3 studies end that failed to live up to expectations, eliminating Selonsertib as a serious treatment option
Intercept released mixed results for Ocaliva, but is pushing ahead for FDA Approval. If granted, it would be the first approved NASH treatement. Decision on approval should come after April 2020.
Abbvie (acquired Allergan) pushed their Phase 3 results for cenicriviroc from 2019 to late 2020.
Genfit delayed Phase 3 elafibranor results to Q1 2020. It remains a promising undercard.
So while we didn’t get any truly amazing results for treatment in 2019, we did make progress. The 2nd International NASH Day helped reach people across the globe. Awareness has been steadily growing.
And while we have yet to hear from Genfit on their treatment data, they did recently announce tremendeous progress in their quest for a non-invasive diagnostic test. Using a unique 4-biomarker algorithm they have been able to accurately identify NASH and significant fibrosis. Genfit plans to file for FDA approval of the test in 2020.
A reliable non-invasive test for NASH is in some ways even more important than a medical treatment. The danger from NASH comes from years of undiagnosed progression, and we already know that the liver damage NASH can cause is reversible in earlier stages of the disease.
I do a lot of volunteer work with the American Liver Foundation. This frequently puts me in social settings at food & drink events where, upon hearing the name of the organization, I’m immediately confronted with the biggest stigma of Liver Disease. “Isn’t it a little odd to be talking about liver disease while holding a beer?”
I love these conversations, because the juxtaposition creates a teachable moment that is more likely than not to be remembered.
My response blows up their preconceptions. “Actually, there are over one-hundred types of liver disease that have nothing to do with alcohol. NASH is a serious progressive liver disease affecting over twenty million American’s alone”.
One of the questions I see asked all of the time is what kind of testing is the best to determine if someone has NASH. I’ve written about the challenge of diagnosis before, but there are a lot of scared individuals out there trying to get answers from their under-educated primary case physicians, and everyone wants to skip the preliminary steps and go straight to a definitive diagnosis. If only it were that easy!
For the 2nd International NASH Day yesterday I took part in a webinar along with Dr. Tuan Pham of the University of Utah. Dr. Pham gave a great overview of the latest in the NASH space and I shared the story of my mom to provide an advocate perspective.
I recently posted my American Liver Foundation Advocacy video where I told Mom’s tragic story. Along with myself, several other patients currently living with various stages of NASH plus several medical professionals took part in the advocacy campaign.
The videos are now all available on the ALF Youtube page. Below are the embedded Youtube Playlists. Watch and share!
For #NASHDAY I’m asking everyone I know to “Give It Up” for NASH Awareness. It could be sugar, coffee, alcohol, TV, politics…literally anything! Write about what you are giving up on the sign attached and share it all over social media next Wednesday June 12th to help spread the word.
And if you can take the $5 that would have gotten you a cup of coffee and instead donate it to the American Liver Foundation’s NASH Day page, you can help raise awareness, provide education and support, and help fund treatments for NASH patients in the future.
A few months ago I was honored to take part in an American Liver Foundation effort to educate and raise awareness for NASH. I travelled to University of San Diego’s Altman Clincial and Translational Research Institute where I recorded a video telling my mom’s story so that others could learn and benefit from our loss. I was joined by a panel of individuals currently living with various stages of NASH and a few distinquished medical experts in the field.
The videos are finally being released as part of our leadup to the 2nd International NASH Day on June 12th. You can watch the entire video below.
For #NASHDAY I’m asking everyone I know to “Give It Up” for NASH Awareness. It could be sugar, coffee, alcohol, TV…literally anything. Post about what you are giving up on social media to help spread the word. And if you can take the $5 that would have gotten you a cup of coffee and instead donate it to the American Liver Foundation’s NASH Day page, you can help raise awareness, provide education and support, and help fund treatments for NASH patients in the future.