International NASH Day, or IND, began in 2018 to raise awareness of nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). This is the most advanced form of fatty liver disease. It is a progressive condition which also puts patients at risk for other illnesses such as metabolic disorders like cardiovascular disease, obesity, and diabetes. Most NASH patients have at least one of these comorbidities. Looking at it another way, 37% of all obese people have NASH as do the same percentage of those with a type 2 diabetes diagnosis.
NASH is often not diagnosed until it is in its worse stages. It can ultimately lead to liver cancer and cirrhosis of the liver. Patients may need a liver transplant.
The COVID-19 pandemic is another risk for patients. Now more than ever, awareness of this disease and research for new therapies is needed.
The IND was an initiative implemented by the Global Liver Institute. This years event convened over 80 different partner organizations to share research updates on the disease.
6 panels were implemented. These were comprised of patients, clinical experts, and researchers, who could each share a different perspective on the disease. Topics covered included immunology, transplantation, nutrition, oncology, and more. Experts came from across the world, with representation from Nigeria, Russia, France, Sweden, and many other countries.
The goal was to not just describe current research challenges, but to find collaborative ways to address them with the expert voices in the room. Cross-disciplinary solutions are often the most beneficial. The aim is to not only find new treatment options, but to increase preventative measures, the speed of diagnosis, and patient’s overall quality of life.
IND takes place on June 12th each year. But the messages, podcasts, panels, social media posts, as well as educational workshops span the whole week.
The IND showcases how united this community is. It also serves as a call to action. We need better screening, enhanced education, and continued advocacy efforts. Especially during this pandemic, the actions of every individual in this community can help to accelerate needed changes for NASH patients.
You can read more about these efforts here.