Alcohol-associated liver disease accounts for 50% of liver-related deaths. However, the most effective treatment so far — early liver transplantation (ELT) — has drawn controversy for not requiring the patient to abstain from alcohol for a predetermined period of time. According to researchers at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, those who are against it fear that patients will go back to drinking with their new liver, “wasting” the donation when donated livers are in short supply.

The National Institutes of Health has granted $12 million to the Keck School researchers, Brian P. Lee, MD, assistant professor of clinical medicine in gastrointestinal liver diseases, and Chief of the division of GI and liver diseases Norah Terrault, MD, for a sweeping seven year study that would determine the actual percentage of patients that go back to drinking, as well as which medical programs are most effective at helping patients abstain.

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