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Integrated Diagnostics for Early Detection of Liver Disease.

Integrated Diagnostics for Early Detection of Liver Disease (ID LIVER) is a research and innovation project which aims to save lives by identifying liver disease in patients much earlier than is currently the case.

Liver disease is a silent killer as many people will have no symptoms until there is irreversible liver damage. Diagnosing liver disease early is important because the liver can often recover with simple lifestyle changes.

University researchers, NHS experts and industry partners across the UK are working together to develop a new clinical system that will enable earlier, more accurate and potentially life-saving diagnoses. This is a major healthcare challenge that no individual team could tackle on its own.

This clinical system will enable patients to be given the most appropriate care as quickly as possible and is in line with the NHS’s long-term goal of focusing on preventing disease.

ID LIVER is led by The University of Manchester and Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust in partnership with The University of Nottingham, Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust and industry partners. We are funded by the UK Government’s Innovate UK Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund to carry out this research for three years from 2020.

The challenge

The liver is one of the largest organs in the body and does hundreds of essential jobs. These include cleaning the blood, fighting infection and disease, and aiding digestion.

In the UK, almost four in ten people are at risk of liver-related health problems. Some of these patients develop scarring (fibrosis) that can often progress to liver failure (cirrhosis), where the liver’s cells stop working as well as they should.

Currently, there are a wide range of single tests for liver disease. These can identify late-stage disease, but they can’t pinpoint early signs or identify patients at risk of worse outcomes. Three quarters of people are diagnosed at a late stage when it is too late for lifestyle changes or intervention. This is one of the UK’s largest health challenges and there is currently no solution apart from transplantation.

Developing software that combines a wide range of tests could help us to come up with much better and much earlier answers when it comes to preventing and diagnosing liver disease. This will improve patient care, diagnoses and experience. It will also improve the efficiency of the NHS and reduce health inequalities.

We want to make big discoveries in three key areas:

  • earlier detection of liver problems in the community;
  • assessing whether MRI scans reduce the need for more invasive liver biopsies;
  • identifying patients who might get liver cancer earlier.

Our research

We are implementing a new clinical system in Greater Manchester to identify patients at risk of liver disease.

This is particularly important for the region because it has one of the UK’s highest rates of liver disease. 

Patients at risk of liver disease will be referred to Liver Assessment Clinics in Manchester as part of their routine clinical care. All of the tests performed would usually be undertaken by a local GP or at a hospital. For this study, these are done in one visit rather than several.

At this appointment, patients will be asked whether they would like to consent to take part in the ID LIVER research study and undertake additional tests. When combined with other clinical data, these tests will provide helpful information for detecting liver disease earlier.

Get involved

The opinions and experiences of patients and the public are a vital part of this research.

We want to ensure that patients and the public have a say in the way that we deliver the project and also that their views are included in developing new community approaches which will enable earlier diagnosis of liver disease. An important element of the project is to raise awareness of liver disease, particularly in the communities where people are most affected by it.

To do this, we’re working with Vocal, a not-for-profit organisation that specialises in bringing people and health research together for everyone’s benefit. Vocal is hosted by Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust, in partnership with The University of Manchester. If you’d like to get involved with ID LIVER and make a difference to people with liver disease, you can learn more about opportunities and contact us here. 

Our Advisory Board also includes representation from the British Liver Trust, who are the UK’s leading liver health charity and provide a wealth of information and support to people affected by liver disease.

Our partners

Contact us

If you have any questions about ID LIVER, please contact us.


Follow us on Twitter: @ID_LIVER