MRI technique could diagnose fatty liver disease before symptoms emerge

University of Arizona in Tuscon researchers, led by Diego Martin, MD, PhD, chair of the university’s medical imaging department, have developed an MRI technique aimed to replace blood tests and invasive biopsies for measuring nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, according to a report by the Arizona Daily Star.  

The technology can determine the percentage of liver fat before symptoms appear. Particularly, the technique may help diagnose the disease earlier in Hispanics who are disproportionately affected by the disease due to obesity often caused by cultural dietary habits, socioeconomic status and limited access to healthcare.  

“For the same level of obesity as a non-Hispanic, they [Hispanics] are also more likely to get nonalcoholic liver disease and progression,” Martin, who identifies as Hispanic, told the media outlet. 

The researchers are currently applying for a $12 million, five-year cancer research grant from the National Institutes of Health to use their technology to track the effects of a new class of anti-diabetes drug on the liver, according to the article.  

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