The COVID-19 pandemic has changed most of our lives in a profound way. The size and complexity of the challenge is reflected in the numbers: millions of lives have been lost and trillions of dollars added to the mountain of global debt. In the 19 months since the Covid-19 global pandemic began, an estimated 4.24 million people worldwide have died from the virus.
Although not trivial, the COVID-19 pandemic has also impacted another equally devastating existing pandemic related to obesity and liver disease. While COVID-19 cases are expected to decline as vaccination rates increase in the near future, the number of fatalities from liver disease continues to rise.
According to the latest WHO Global Health Observatory data, collated in 2016, more than 1.9 billion adults were overweight, with 650 million of these individuals being obese. As such, the global spread of obesity has been labeled a pandemic, albeit one with a slower onset of cases and detrimental effects than the COVID-19 pandemic.
The high prevalence of obesity has resulted in an increase in Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) and is rapidly becoming the most common cause of chronic liver disease. If untreated, NAFLD persists on a spectrum from simple steatosis to nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), which is marked by lobular hepatic inflammation and ballooning.
The expansion of NASH has led to an increase in morbidity and mortality. In the same time period in the last 19 months, 3.15 million have died from liver disease. While Covid vaccinations can and will save millions of lives, patients with chronic liver disease must hope for rare and costly liver transplants.
“Chronic liver disease occurs throughout the world irrespective of age, sex, region or race. Cirrhosis is an end result of a variety of liver diseases characterized by fibrosis and architectural distortion of the liver with the formation of regenerative nodules and can have varied clinical manifestations and complications, according to WHO.
Liver disease rates are steadily increasing over the years. According to National statistics in the UK, liver diseases have been ranked as the fifth most common cause of death. Liver diseases are recognized as the second leading cause of mortality amongst all digestive diseases in the US.” World Gastroenterology Organization
The Liver Foundation estimates that over 100 million Americans have NAFLD and many are unaware of it. As many as 30-40% of these individuals may develop Non-Alcoholic Steatohepatitis or NASH. Of these approximately 30 million NASH patients, 6.5 million will develop cirrhosis leading to chronic liver disease and death.
Other patients may fall victim to alcoholism, opioid abuse, or misuse of acetaminophen, all of which can lead to liver fibrosis, cirrhosis, acute or chronic liver disease and death.
Currently, other than being lucky enough to get a new liver, there is no current treatment for chronic or acute liver disease. However, a liver transplant is not a 100% guaranteed cure since recent reports have found that recurrences of NASK in transplanted livers are also on the rise.
However, there is significant hope for millions of Americans and billions of humans. PrimeGen US has proven the efficacy of using stemXcell™ activated mesenchymal stem cells to treat patients suffering from liver fibrosis or cirrhosis. We are on course to bring our therapy into human clinical trials and address the needs of billions of people.