Helen S. Te, MD, explains her research in Non-Alcohol Fatty Liver Disease.
HELEN TE: Liver disease is quite a very wide field. But most of my research has been concentrated on patients who are cirrhotic, and therefore usually some of these patients are needing liver transplantation and those who are post-transplant patients. So one of the studies that we have done was to look at the prevalence of zinc deficiency in patients with cirrhosis, since nutritional deficiencies is quite common in patients with cirrhosis, to identify the time of when this zinc deficiency should be evaluated for at the various stages of cirrhosis. And we were able to identify that when a patient reaches what we would usually call Child's B cirrhosis or have a MELD score of at least 15, then the risk for zinc deficiency significantly increases. And that should be the time that it should be screened for. On the other side of the liver transplant world, I have been involved in clinical trials that have investigated the use of new medications for treating hepatitis C in post-transplant recipients. Many of our transplant recipients receive liver transplants because of hepatitis C. But hepatitis C, unfortunately, just recurs universally after liver transplantation. So we always have a fear of losing the patients' new liver to this disease all over again, and then the time of losing the graft varies from patient to patient. Therefore, treatment of hepatitis C after liver transplantation would be a major victory for these patients as their fears of losing the graft to this disease will no longer be an issue. So we have been innovative in using new medications that are either available on the market, combining them in different ways, or even those medications that are still in clinical trials that we participate in have been available to our liver transplant recipients.