New hope for PBC liver disease

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Primary biliary cirrhosis, or PBC, is a slow acting liver disease that can lead to scarring and the need for a liver transplant. (KFSN)

Primary biliary cirrhosis, or PBC, is a slow acting liver disease that can lead to scarring and the need for a liver transplant. PBC affects 10 times as many women than men and is not related to drinking alcohol. While there is no cure, a promising new treatment could slow its progress.

For Linie Moore, Barbie dolls are a welcome escape from a devastating diagnosis that's left her tired and itching all the time.

"I itch so bad that at times it feels like little bugs are crawling on you," Linie Moore told ABC30.

First diagnosed with primary biliary cirrhosis or PBC 20 years ago, she was told to prepare for a liver transplant.

"And I have a son that had just gotten into high school that I was worried about being without a mother," said Moore.

Dr. John Vierling says most patients take a daily dose of urso, a bile acid that improves the liver's ability to function. But not everyone responds. Now there's a new treatment known as obeticholic acid that could help.

"We are going to have a therapy where we can really prevent the progression of this disease," John Vierling, M.D., and Chief of Hepatology at Baylor College of Medicine told ABC30.

It's the first new therapy in 20 years being tested in a phase three trial.

"Everything that pertained to liver test and function improved," said Dr. Vierling.

It's welcome news for Linie and the more than 3,000 members of the support group she started.

"PBC is not a death sentence," Moore explained.

To learn more about Linie's PBC support group, log onto pbcers.org or find the PBC-ers on Facebook. Since PBC is not caused by drinking alcohol, Linie's group and the medical community are pushing for a new name, primary biliary cholangitis, to fight the stigma attached to the word cirrhosis.

For more information on this report, please contact:

Graciela Gutierrez
Baylor College of Medicine
(713) 798-4710
ggutierr@bcm.edu


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