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Florida Research Institute (FRI) & Echosens Present Studies at May 2019 Digestive Disease Week

Highlights Value of Non-Invasive Screening for Fatty Liver Disease

May 20, 2019

SAN DIEGO & WALTHAM, Mass.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Echosens, an innovative high-technology company offering the FibroScan family of products, has funded an ongoing study conducted by the Florida Research Institute, a global leader in disease research. Principal investigators of the study will present two research abstracts that support the role of non-invasive screening methods to detect liver disease in asymptomatic patients during Digestive Disease Week (DDW), San Diego Convention Center, San Diego, May 18-21, 2019.

“The research presentations will support the utilization of FibroScan as a tool to detect non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and non-alcoholic steato-hepatitis (NASH) in the absence of indications or warning signs.” says Dr. Guy Neff, M.D., M.B.A., director of the Florida Research Institute

Neff explains that researchers will present interim data on 1,600 patients from this ongoing observational study. The study is designed to evaluate liver stiffness and fat for up to 10,000 patients presenting for routine endoscopic procedures. The patients evaluated in this analysis had an average BMI of 27 and an average age of 67, with no prior history of liver disease. Of the patients screened:

  • 47 percent presented with elevations of liver fat
  • 13 percent with elevated stiffness
  • 9 percent with stiffness and liver fat
  • 4 percent with liver stiffness only

“This data reinforces the previous interim analysis, suggesting that up to 13 percent of patients show signs of advancing liver disease and require further workup,” he continues. “It points to the need for continued research that should be performed to examine the degree of liver dysfunction and better understand the prevalence and degree of endoscopy complications in patients with NAFLD and NASH.”

Neff points out that this study reinforces that early detection of NASH and intervention are key, especially in the baby boomer generation, saying, “While we have stressed the importance of screening for Hepatitis C in this population, there remains a gap in education about this other highly prevalent, silent and often deadly disease. Recent studies published in the Journal of Hepatology suggest that due to its silent course, liver failure is often the first presentation at diagnosis of NAFLD-related cirrhosis in 38 to 45 percent of cases presenting for transplant. When it comes to the burden of transplant and decompensated cirrhosis, we have a missed opportunity to reduce costs, mortality and morbidity from both cardiovascular and liver disease.”

He says that the rise in prevalence of NAFLD and NASH are linked to the type 2 diabetes and obesity epidemics, adding, “Most striking was that while the patients had unremarkable rates of hypertension, diabetes and were, on average, overweight and not obese, a majority had excessive levels of liver fat and nine percent appear to have results suggestive of fibrotic NASH.”

Dr. Neff says this opens a great opportunity for follow up with education and more intensive intervention in advance of the treatments that will arrive in the coming years, noting, “This is meaningful to all stakeholders, with the drug market projected to reach $21 billion to $35 billion, and underscores the importance of understanding the disease prevalence and critical interventions.”

FibroScan is the most widely studied point-of-care tool for quantitative liver assessment in the world, with over 2,000 peer-reviewed research publications and over 1,200 FibroScan systems placed in the United States.

Dr. Laurent Sandrin, co-founder of Echosens, says, “These studies demonstrate the significant public health opportunities associated with non-invasive screening for fatty liver disease and the value of quickly and painlessly assessing liver health – especially if standard follow-up care is emphasized. FibroScan as part of an overall assessment can help detect liver disease before it progresses and becomes symptomatic, reducing costs and improving outcomes.”

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