Collaborative Team: Prof E Powell, Prof T Russell, Dr K Hayward, Prof S McPhail, Prof P Valery.
A new research project funded by the PA Research Foundation aims to increase detection rates of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) among people with type 2 diabetes.
The study will see researchers, led by PA based Hepatologist and University of Queensland researcher Professor Elizabeth Powell, work closely with GPs and diabetes specialists to implement a practical pathway to optimise care of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease in high risk patients with type 2 diabetes.
The project will develop and implement a practical pathway for optimal care of NAFLD in “high-risk” patients with type 2 diabetes focussing on the concept of the right care, in the right place at the right time, with the goal of translating the findings into clinical practice to maximise capacity to manage the growing burden of NAFLD in Australia reduce future cost consequences for patients and the health system.
People with type 2 diabetes, who develop a fatty liver have a higher risk of the condition advancing to include progressive scarring or fibrosis and potentially developing cirrhosis of the liver and even liver cancer, highlighting the need for research.
Around 30 per cent of the population have fatty liver, but in people with diabetes that prevalence jumps to between 60 and 70 per cent, meaning the PA Hospital led study may impact the way diabetes is managed going forward.
The research will see diabetes patients undergo a FibroScan® test for fatty liver at their regular diabetes clinic appointment, giving them the opportunity to be screened for a fatty liver so that their risk of liver scarring can be assessed, and the right care and treatment plan put in place.
Low risk patients will then be managed with dietary modification and increased physical activity, ideally by their GP or a diabetes specialist in their community, reducing the need for patients to be seen in hospital liver clinics.
Patients at high risk for severe liver scarring will be referred to a hepatology clinic where they can be enrolled in a surveillance program for liver cancer and other cirrhosis related complications.
An added bonus from the study made possible by the PA Research foundation’s donors will be increased education about NAFLD and its risks among researchers, clinicians, GP’s, and patients, with the condition on the rise across Australia and globally.