Warfarin may prevent liver failure in hepatitis C patients

Warfarin could be used to prevent liver failure in thousands of patients with hepatitis C, a new study suggests.

UK researchers found that warfarin significantly reduced the level of liver fibrosis in mice with chronic liver injury.

Digital image analysis of liver histology of wild-type mice treated with warfarin showed a 33 per cent reduction in mean fibrosis area compared with controls, according to the study published in the Journal of Thrombosis and Haemostasis.

The alpha-smooth muscle actin, which is a biochemical marker of fibrosis at a cellular level, was also reduced by 10 per cent in wild-type mice treated with warfarin.

It follows previous research by the same group which found that patients prone to blood clotting who have hepatitis C have accelerated liver scarring.

The researchers have now begun a two-year multi-centre trial, funded by the Medical Research Council (MRC), in 90 hepatitis C patients who have had liver transplants. These patients suffer rapid progression to fibrosis, and the follow-up trial should bring faster results, the researchers say.

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