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POST DOCTORAL PROJECT: Early detection of chronic liver disease in community settings

Chief Investigator: Dr Kate Glyn-Owen – University of Southampton

Project Team Members: Julie Parkes – University of Southampton, Dr Richard Aspinall – Portsmouth University Hospitals NHS Trust

Organisations Involved: British Liver Trust, Portsmouth Football Club (Pompey In The Community), Portsmouth City Council public health team

Background:

Liver disease is the third biggest cause of early death in the UK. Two of the main causes of liver disease are drinking too much alcohol, which directly damages the liver, and being overweight, which can lead to fat building up in the liver and causing damage.

If liver disease is detected early, it is possible to prevent disease progression, and in some cases to reverse damage done. This benefits patients and reduces impact on the healthcare system.

The best way to detect liver disease early is not known. Tests and risk scores are available which use a simple blood test and information about the patient. These were developed in hospital settings, for people with known liver disease. They have not been used sufficiently in general population settings and we do not know how good they are at detecting liver disease in these settings.

This project is investigating how these tests and scores perform in general population settings, using data from the UK Biobank, a big dataset from general population volunteers. We are exploring whether combining tests/scores with information about people’s risk factors, may improve detection of disease.

We are going out to community settings, performing a risk assessment and simple scan for liver disease in populations at high risk. We are working with Portsmouth Football Club, the British Liver Trust and Portsmouth City Council public health team, to target populations at risk and to find out how effective we can be at early detection of disease in these settings.