Treatment of rare liver disease being led by Surrey team

The treatment and research into a rare liver disease is being led by a team of international experts from Surrey.

Royal Surrey County Hospital in Guildford has been designated a centre of excellence for Wilson’s Disease in recognition of the expert knowledge and research taking place at the NHS Trust.

Wilson’s Disease is a rare condition where sufferers have a higher than normal amount of copper in their body, which can damage their liver, brain and organs.

The excess of copper is caused by a genetic disorder that stops the liver from processing and removing the copper from the body.

Professor Aftab Ala, is the Trust’s Clinical Director of Gastroenterology and Hepatology and is an international expert on the condition, which without the correct treatment can cause life-threatening organ damage.

Professor Ala will be sharing more on his ground-breaking research and discussing liver disease in general at Royal Surrey’s Annual Members Meeting at G Live on July 11.

“Wilson’s disease is incredibly rare affecting somewhere between 1/30,000 to 1/100,000 people and as a result sufferers can spend years living with an incorrect diagnosis and the wrong treatment,” said Professor Ala.

“At Royal Surrey we have brought together an incredibly strong team who bring with them a wealth of expertise and help to ensure patients have access to the best medication and are taking it correctly.

“We are also carrying out extensive research in order that patients with Wilson’s Disease can access the very latest pioneering treatments.”

Professor Ala’s expert multidisciplinary team includes paediatrician, neurologist, heptolagist, ophthalmologist, and a biochemist.

Under his leadership, Royal Surrey is involved in the trialling of a number of new drugs that should improve the lives of sufferers, including a single daily tablet as opposed to the current standard treatment that involves taking multiple pills each day.

Professor Ala and his team have also been collaborating with colleagues at Yale University, USA, in order to create a register of Wilson’s Disease sufferers.

Work on the US list is already well underway and Professor Ala will be leading the creation of an identical registry this side of the pond.

He said: “We don’t have anything like a natural history of the disease or even know how many patients there are in the UK.

“We also don’t know how patients, other than the ones we see here in Guildford, respond to the treatments.

“The registry will allow us to start building a picture of the patients across Europe, UK, USA and then to follow them over a number of years.”

Royal Surrey’s Annual Members Meeting takes place on 11 July at G Live in Guildford.

The meeting will also feature highlights from the Trust’s performance during the previous financial year from members of the Executive Team.

Prior to the formal Annual Members’ Meeting there will be three short talks:

  • Advances in Liver and Pancreas surgery and the hepatobiliary Unit – Surgeon Angela Riga.
  • Research Performance and Strategy – Kate Penhaligon and Cheryl Marriott
  • Transforming Our Outpatients Services – David Hitchman and Alex Nicholls

Booking is essential for the above talks as space is limited. Please email to reserve your space.

A full agenda for the formal Annual Members’ Meeting and minutes from last year’s Annual Members’ Meeting can be found here.

©2019 Royal Surrey County Hospital

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