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Brigham and Women’s is launching the nation’s first ever center to conduct research on primary sclerosing cholangitis, a rare liver disease that affects about 30,000 people in the United States. This research center was created thanks to the donations of Frank and Barbara Resneck. The president of Brigham Health has said how thankful she is for the donation, and how it will allow for attention and resources to be devoted to research for PSC.
About Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis (PSC)
Primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) is a rare, chronic disease that causes damage to bile ducts. These ducts are blocked due to inflammation and scarring, and the blockages lead to buildups of bile in the liver, as it cannot travel through the ducts into the gallbladder. After this bile accumulates in the liver, it causes damage to the cells in the liver. This damage leads to fibrosis, cirrhosis, and eventually liver failure.
The cause of this disease is unknown, but it is thought to be a reaction to a viral or bacterial infection. Healthcare professionals also suspect exposures to toxins or issues with the autoimmune system as the reason for this disease. About 75% of those with primary sclerosing cholangitis also have some type of inflammatory bowel disease, which would agree with healthcare professional’s suspicions. Those who have this disease are primarily male, at around 70% of PSC patients.
Symptoms of PSC advance as the disease progresses, with early symptoms including fatigue and itching. Later symptoms are pain in the upper right abdomen, fever, enlarged liver, jaundice, bile duct infection, and eventually liver failure.
While there is currently no cure for primary sclerosing cholangitis, there are treatments available. These include medication to deal with itching, vitamins, dietary supplements, antibiotics for any infections, bile duct surgery, and liver transplants. Different forms of treatment are necessary for different levels of severity of the disease. An open conversation with one’s doctor is essential before receiving treatment.
About the New Research Center
The Resneck Family Center for Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis Research is the first research center to exist for research on PSC in the United States. The center is under the direction of Dr. Joshua Korzenik and is staffed by a team of researchers, including experts in gastroenterology, hepatology, immunology, pathology, and translational medicine. This team will search for the cause of PSC, investigating how genes, environmental triggers, the immune system, and microbiota could lead to the disease. The end goal is to develop drugs that will halt progression of PSC. This center is possible due to a donation of $20.2 million from the Resneck family. They searched the nation for the right place for research and treatment of primary sclerosing cholangitis and finally settled on Boston. Dr. Betsy Nabel, the president of Brigham Health, has expressed her gratitude for the donation.
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