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Szabo to NY Times: Development of drug for NASH very exciting

By Ellie Castano

UMass Medical School Communications

January 12, 2014

Gyongyi_SzaboGyongyi Szabo, MD, PhD, was quoted in a Jan. 9 New York Times story on the successful conclusion of a trial for a drug to treat nonalcoholic fatty liver disease that affects millions of Americans.

“I think it’s actually very exciting. In this patient population, we really don’t have any good medication that we can offer,” said Dr. Szabo (at right).

The drug trial of obeticholic acid to treat nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) was ended early because the treatment was so effective, according to the New York Times story. Szabo, who is professor of medicine, is an international expert on the disease, but was not involved in the study.

NASH is liver inflammation caused by a buildup of fat in the liver. Many people have a buildup of fat in the liver and never develop NASH. For those who do, the liver becomes inflamed and does not function properly. NASH is similar to the liver disease caused by chronic alcohol abuse, but occurs in people who don’t abuse alcohol. It can lead to cirrhosis and liver failure and may be on the rise as a result of the obesity epidemic.