Behind the Clinical Trials for Non-Alcohol Fatty Liver Disease that Can Benefit 30% of Americans

 

The Impact Research Institute (IRI) is Waco, Texas’ resource for extending care options for NAFLD (non-alcohol fatty liver disease.) Nadege Gunn is IRI’s Medical Director and President. She joined Kevin Stevenson on I Don’t Care to discuss her and her team’s mission to treat NAFLD and other related diseases and conditions.

Dr. Gunn is a Gastroenterologist and Hepatologist whose main passion is the liver. “The liver is an amazing organ,” Dr. Gunn said. “It’s the only organ in the body that you could cut in half, and it can grow back in full size in about three months. The work we do in transplantation and replacing the liver is quite amazing, so that’s why I chose the field in general.”

Dr. Gunn helped open IRI in July of 2021. Necessity created the decision to develop the center. While practicing clinical trials in Austin, Texas, Dr. Gunn saw many patients traveling from the Waco area to receive treatment options for NAFLD. With no scan or clinical trial options available to people in Waco and the surrounding area, Dr. Gunn recognized an opportunity to open a clinic to serve the growing needs.

Community outreach is critical to the clinic’s role in Waco, TX. When they identify candidates who may have NAFLD, they do a non-invasive scan at the center to determine if the candidate does have the disease. “If they do, then we invite them to maybe participate in a clinical trial because there are no treatments for fatty liver,” Dr. Gunn said.

For people wondering if they might have NAFLD, Dr. Gunn said the disease is often asymptomatic in the early stages. “It is when the disease is progressing, when it is starting to injure and harm the liver, that people might start firstly feeling fatigued,” Dr. Gunn said. “They might feel pain in the right upper quadrant of their abdomen and their belly.” Recognizing these warning signs and seeking a diagnosis is critical before full-on cirrhosis of the liver occurs.

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