Detecting liver damage might be enhanced by focusing on certain biomarkers.
As the body’s chemical clearinghouse, the liver is prone to drug-induced injury. Detecting liver damage, though, is complicated because the standard protein biomarkers of liver damage are expressed throughout the body; they don’t necessarily reflect what’s going on in that organ. Now, by focusing on only those proteins expressed at high levels in the liver, researchers have identified a panel of blood biomarkers that detect acetaminophen-induced liver injury better than the standard medical test (J. Proteome Res. 2016, DOI:10.1021/acs.jproteome.6b00547). The approach could be applied to the development of diagnostic tests for a host of organ-specific conditions.
For many years, clinicians have relied on assays for two enzymes, alanine aminotransferase (ALT) and aspartate aminotransferase (AST), to detect liver injury. These biomarkers have limitations, says Leroy Hood of the Institute for Systems Biology, such as a short half-life and a tendency to underreport damage in certain individuals. Hood has been thinking about how to find better disease biomarkers for many years. “I had this idea that if we could identify organ-enriched proteins that actually appear in the blood, they would be fantastic biomarkers of disease in an organ.”
Read Full Article: A better blood test for liver damage | Chemical & Engineering News
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