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New liver dialysis device shows potential to resolve liver failure in patients with acute-on-chronic liver failure

Amsterdam | June 1, 2023

A clinical trial using DIALIVE, a liver dialysis device, to treat patients with liver failure demonstrated significant improvements on all the main underlying pathophysiological mechanisms of acute-on-chronic liver failure, according to a new report in the Journal of Hepatology

Acute-on-chronic liver failure (ACLF) occurs in 30% of hospitalized cirrhosis patients, leading to over one million deaths worldwide each year. Currently, the only potential treatment for this condition is liver transplantation, which is available to very few patients. A first-in-human randomized controlled clinical trial using DIALIVE, a novel liver dialysis device, demonstrated its potential as a disease-modifying therapy and resolved liver failure significantly faster and in a greater proportion of patients compared with controls. Treatment of ACLF patients resulted in significant improvements in all the main underlying pathophysiological mechanisms of ACLF. Resultsopens in new tab/window appear in the Journal of Hepatologyopens in new tab/window, published by Elsevier.

“DIALIVE is a novel liver dialysis device invented at University College London (UCL) by Dr. Nathan Davies and me,” explained lead investigator Rajiv Jalan, PhD, UCL Institute for Liver & Digestive Health, based at the Royal Free Hospital, London, and European Foundation for the Study of Chronic Liver Failure (EF Clif), Barcelona. He added, “It is based on an understanding of the mechanisms underlying ACLF, which are what we are correcting with this machine by exchanging dysfunctional albumin and removing damage- and pathogen-associated molecular patterns. Two previous preclinical trials showed that this device saved the lives of animals with liver failure. These data were used to apply for an EU grant (ALIVERopens in new tab/window) to conduct this clinical trial.”

In this multicenter, randomized clinical trial investigators evaluated 32 alcoholic cirrhosis patients with ACLF who were treated with either DIALIVE or standard of care for up to five days. End points were assessed at Day 10. The primary aim was to evaluate DIALIVE’s safety in acute ACLF patients, while secondary aims were to assess clinical effects, device performance and effect on pathophysiologically-relevant biomarkers. Safety was assessed in all patients. The secondary aims were assessed in a pre-specified subgroup of 30 patients who had at least three treatment sessions with DIALIVE.

The study, which involved multiple centers across Europe, was led by clinical investigator Banwari Agarwal, MBBS, MD, consultant in liver ICU at the Royal Free Hospital.

Illustration European Foundation for study of chronic liver

Caption: Randomized, controlled clinical trial of the DIALIVE liver dialysis device vs. standard of care in patients with acute-on-chronic liver failure (ACLF) (Credit: European Foundation for the Study of Chronic Liver Failure).

It confirmed that the DIALIVE system is safe. In addition, patients experienced significant improvements on all the main underlying pathophysiological mechanisms of ACLF. This included improvement in albumin function, reduction in products of cell death and endotoxin, restoration of endothelial function, and cell signaling. Although the study was not powered for efficacy, it showed that the proportion of patients in which ACLF was resolved was greater with DIALIVE, and the time to resolution of ACLF was significantly reduced. It did not, however, reduce mortality in this small study. Therefore, larger clinical trials are needed in future to confirm DIALIVE’s efficacy and establish its safety.

“This is the first treatment that has shown such a rapid clinical effect in patients with ACLF,” said co-lead investigator Steffen Mitzner, MD, PhD, Fraunhofer IZI and Department of Medicine II, Division of Gastroenterology and Endocrinology, Rostock University Medical Center, Rostock, Germany. “The patients that resolved ACLF remained free of ACLF for 28 days despite only being treated with the device for three days. The improvement in biomarkers underlying the pathophysiology of ACLF was sustained even five days after stopping therapy.”

“These data indicate that DIALIVE may be a disease-modifying therapy for ACLF patients and could impact the outcome of patients with ACLF, for which there is no available therapy except liver transplantation available to a very small minority of these patients,” concluded Dr. Jalan. “The potential impact is huge if these data can be confirmed in larger clinical trials.”

“The positive results from this trial are great news for ACLF patients, and we are now preparing for a larger clinical trial,” added Carrie Morgan, Vice President, Clinical Operations, Yaqrit Discovery Ltd, a UCL spin-off company located in London and producer of DIALIVE.

ACLF is characterized clinically by multiorgan failure and high risk of short-term mortality and pathophysiologically by the presence of systemic inflammation. ACLF is a major global problem with prevalence rates of 20% to 30% in hospitalized cirrhosis patients. The worldwide reported mortality rate according to the EASL-CLIF Consortium definition is between 30% to 50% at 28-days from presentation.


Notes for editors

The article is “Randomized, controlled clinical trial of the DIALIVE liver dialysis device versus standard of care in patients with acute-on-chronic liver failure,” by Banwari Agarwal, Rafael Bañares Cañizares, Faouzi Saliba, Maria Pilar Ballester, Dana Rodica Tomescu, Daniel Martin, Vanessa Stadlbauer, Gavin Wright, Mohammed Sheikh, Carrie Morgan, Carlos Alzola, Phillip Lavin, Daniel Green, Rahul Kumar, Sophie Caroline Sacleux, Gernot Schilcher, Sebastian Koball, Andrada Tudor, Jaak Minten, Gema Domenech, Juan Jose Aragones, Karl Oettl, Margret Paar, Katja Waterstradt, Stefanie M. Bode-Boger, Luis Ibáñez-Samaniego, Amir Gander, Carolina Ramos, Alexandru Chivu, Jan Stange, Georg Lamprecht, Moises Sanchez, Rajeshwar P. Mookerjee, Andrew Davenport, Nathan Davies, Marco Pavesi, Fausto Andreola, Agustin Albillos, Jeremy Cordingley, Hartmut Schmidt, Juan Antonio Carbonell-Asins, Vicente Arroyo, Javier Fernandez, Steffen Mitzner, and Rajiv Jalan ( in new tab/window). It appears online in advance of the Journal of Hepatology, volume 79, issue 1 (July 2023) published by Elsevier.

The article is openly available at in new tab/window.

Clinical trial number NCT03065699. This study has received funding from European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under grant agreement number 733057. EASL is the dissemination partner for the project.

Full text of this article is also available to credentialed journalists upon request; contact Freya Weise at +33 (6) 28 51 59 51 or [email protected]opens in new tab/window. Journalists wishing to interview the authors should contact Rajiv Jalan, PhD, at [email protected]opens in new tab/window.

About the Journal of Hepatology

The Journal of Hepatologyopens in new tab/window, the premier journal devoted to liver diseases, is the official journal of the European Association for the Study of the Liver (EASL). It publishes original papers, reviews, case reports, and letters to the Editor concerned with clinical and basic research in the field of hepatology. The journal has a 2021 Impact Factor of 30.083 (Source: Journal Citation Reports™ from Clarivate, 2022). www.journal-of-hepatology.euopens in new tab/window

About EASL

In the fifty plus years since EASLopens in new tab/window was founded, it has grown from a small organization that played host to 70 participants at its first meeting, to becoming the leading international liver association. EASL attracts the foremost hepatology experts as members and has an impressive track record in promoting research in liver disease, supporting wider education, and promoting changes in European liver policy. www.easl.euopens in new tab/window

About Elsevier

As a global leader in scientific information and analytics, Elsevier helps researchers and healthcare professionals advance science and improve health outcomes for the benefit of society. We do this by facilitating insights and critical decision-making with innovative solutions based on trusted, evidence-based content and advanced AI-enabled digital technologies.

We have supported the work of our research and healthcare communities for more than 140 years. Our 9,500 employees around the world, including 2,500 technologists, are dedicated to supporting researchers, librarians, academic leaders, funders, governments, R&D-intensive companies, doctors, nurses, future healthcare professionals and educators in their critical work. Our 2,900 scientific journals and iconic reference books include the foremost titles in their fields, including Cell Press, The Lancet and Gray’s Anatomy.

Together with the Elsevier Foundationopens in new tab/window, we work in partnership with the communities we serve to advance inclusion and diversity in science, research and healthcare in developing countries and around the world.

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Freya Weise, MD, PhD


+33 (6) 28 51 59 51

E-mail Freya Weise, MD, PhD