Conference Coverage

Future of NASH care means multiple targets, multiple providers, expert says



– While current treatment options are limited for patients with nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), a number of potential agents in clinical trials, Zobair M. Younossi, MD, MPH, said here at the 6th annual Digestive Diseases: New Advances conference.

Dr. Zobair M. Younossi

Dr. Zobair M. Younossi

With agents currently available and those to come, the future will be focused on long-term management of NASH as a chronic disease in specialized centers, according to Dr. Younossi, chairman in the department of medicine at Inova Fairfax Hospital and vice president for research at Inova Health System, both in Falls Church, Va.

“We are not going to be able to cure NASH – we need to manage it,” Dr. Younossi said in a podium presentation. “NASH will be managed like type 2 diabetes. It’s not going to be treated like hepatitis C.”

Current treatment options are limited, with no Food and Drug Administration–approved options, and just two agents, vitamin E and pioglitazone, supported by guidance from the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD), Dr. Younossi said.

Public health interventions are needed to address the obesity and type 2 diabetes that are “the root of this disease,” Dr. Younossi said at the meeting, which was jointly provided by Rutgers and Global Academy for Medical Education.

Current AASLD guidance is based on studies suggesting that weight loss in the 3%-5% range may improve steatosis, and a 7%-10% weight loss can improve most histologic features of NASH, including fibrosis.

“The problem is that this is very hard to achieve,” Dr. Younossi said, adding that it is also hard to maintain. In a 2011 meta-analysis of clinical trials for reduction in nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, only a small minority of patients were able to maintain weight loss.

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