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Strong study recruitment boosts treatment search for serious alcoholic liver disease

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A south west hospital trust is running a study looking for answers on how to help patients with currently untreatable alcoholic hepatitis.

MICAH (Multicentre Cohort Study in Alcoholic Hepatitis) aims to develop clinical tests to improve the management of the disease, which leads to liver failure, infection and death in 1 in 3 patients within 3 months.

The Medical Research Council (MRC)-funded study is recruiting patients admitted to hospital across the UK. And the hepatology research team at University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust (UHPNT), supported by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Clinical Research Network (CRN) South West Peninsula, is a key player in recruitment nationally.

Dr Ashwin Dhanda, Consultant Hepatologist at UHPNT and a Co-Investigator on MICAH, is leading the study at the Trust.

He said: “The challenge with recruiting to MICAH is identifying potentially eligible patients as soon as possible during their unplanned hospital admission, and the key to our success is flexible working, with an engaged research team.”

Dr Dhanda, who is also Hepatology Specialty Lead for the CRN South West Peninsula, continued: “Our Clinical Research Fellow regularly screens inpatient admission lists for eligible patients, and then communicates with our research nursing team to arrange a suitable time for a baseline visit. The close working of our clinical and research nursing teams with careful Principal Investigator (PI) oversight has meant we have been able to identify and recruit a high number of patients.”

MICAH is a national observational cohort study, which has been designed to learn more about what happens to patients with alcoholic hepatitis. There are no treatments currently available to improve the chance of long-term survival in patients diagnosed with the disease. Study participants are being asked to provide clinical information, together with biological samples that will be used to develop diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers and investigate mechanisms of the condition to identify new targets for future therapy. Recruitment is expected to continue until spring 2022.