New test to detect liver damage after paracetamol overdoses

A blood test has been created which could help detect liver damage in those who have taken a paracetamol overdose.

Patients who had taken an excessive amount of the drug were previously marginally helped by a test which could detect the specific blood molecules associated with liver damage.

This new development will allow medics to also register the levels of these molecules.

Doctors will now be able to identify which patients need specific treatments and allow others to return home immediately after being treated.

The study was part-funded by the Edinburgh and Lothians Health Foundation, along with the Medical Research Council.

Approximately 50,000 people in the UK are admitted to hospital for taking too much paracetamol. Sometimes people have been known to accidentally overdose after taking paracetamol as well as flu & cold medication that also carry the drug.

Dr James Dear, of Edinburgh University, said: “Paracetamol overdose is very common and presents a large workload for already over-stretched emergency departments. These new blood tests can identify who will develop liver injury as soon as they first arrive at hospital. This could transform the care of this large, neglected, patient group.”

50,000 people overdose on paracetamol every year. Source: Google

The findings pave the way for a generation of new developments across liver damage treatments.

A group led by Edinburgh University and Liverpool University trialled the test amongst over 1000 people admitted to hospitals.

Dr Daniel Antonine who worked at the University of Liverpool during the time of the study, said: “This is an excellent example of scientists, clinicians and statisticians working together to tackle an important medical problem. The outcome of studies like these have generated excitement amongst the pharmaceutical industry and drug regulation so that we can further our understanding of the fundamental basis of drug-induced liver injury.”


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