Liver toxicity is a common
and occasionally life-threatening side-effect type of therapeutic drugs which
often results in the development of new drugs being stopped or a new drug
having to be taken off the market. Alternatively,
when the drug is particularly useful and the liver side-effect very rare, the
drug may continue to be prescribed with doctors advised to be alert for
symptoms/signs of liver problems.
The explanation for most
drug-related liver side is unclear; however, there is increasing evidence that
genetic (inherited) factors play an important role in determining a person’s
risk. The Diligen project is funded by
the Department of Health and aims to develop a simple test to identify patients
at high risk of developing drug-induced liver disease. This new test would be
carried out prior to patients being prescribed potentially toxic medicines,
allowing them to be given a different drug treatment if positive for the test.
We are collecting blood
samples from patients who develop liver problems associated with prescribed
drugs, including patients who have these problems in the past. We are studying
the genetic profile of the patient's DNA to pinpoint which genes predict
toxicity and will then use this information to develop the test.