News Stories

Multiple Clinical Trials Underway in the Rio Grande Valley to Help Combat a Leading Cause of Death amongst Hispanics

Edinburg, TX— Throughout the United States, the Hispanic population continues to show high rates of liver disease, including liver cancer, cirrhosis, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). To help battle these high rates of liver disease, the DHR Health Institute for Research and Development has made it a priority to bring advanced clinical care opportunities in the form of innovative and state-of-the-art clinical trials for the benefit of the patients in the Rio Grande Valley.

“In South Texas, where the population is about 90% Hispanic, every 1 in 3 middle-aged Latinos have a progressive form of fatty liver called nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, or NASH,” states Dr. Sohail Rao, President and CEO of the DHR Health Institute for Research and Development. “The mortality rates for cirrhosis continue to rise across the United States, as the rates of metabolic disorders, such as obesity and type 2 diabetes. Because individuals with NAFLD and NASH tend to show no symptoms, their disease state may have progressed to end-stage liver disease before they become aware.”

“The prevalence of fatty liver disease due to obesity and diabetes is rapidly rising, as is the prevalence of liver cancer in the setting of fatty liver,” states Dr. Stephen Harrison, Medical Director at Pinnacle Clinical Research and President at Summit Clinical Research. “It is imperative that both patients and physicians become aware of this epidemic in our society and join forces to help identify those patients at greatest risk for disease progression.”

Currently the DHR Health Institute for Research and Development and the DHR Health Liver Specialty Center have six active clinical trials that are providing advanced clinical care for participants with NASH. These clinical research trials provide the community with the latest and most innovate treatment options available when their regular standard of care has failed. The participation of the Hispanic community facilitates the development of specific clinical care models that optimize the benefits of our own population in the Rio Grande Valley.

“Steatohepatisis basically means fat with inflammation and is a biopsy-proven diagnosis,” states Dr. Rashmee Patil, Hepatologist at the DHR Health Liver Specialty Center and Clinical Research Scientist at the DHR Health Institute for Research and Development. “Inflammatory changes in the liver lead to scarring and for some can ultimately lead to end-stage liver disease, cirrhosis. At the DHR Health Liver Specialty Center we are aiming to not only increase disease state awareness, but to also help identify people who may have NASH. We use a non-invasive imaging technique, called a Fibroscan that is portable and patients can access through health fairs and community events.”

Due to the diligent efforts of the team at the DHR Health Liver Specialty Center to screen and enroll participants to receive these advanced care treatment options for NASH, they have been recognized nationally as leaders by multiple industry partners.

“By identifying patients with NASH and high-risk fibrosis, we are able to then offer novel therapeutic drugs aimed at treating a disease that currently has no effective therapies outside of weight loss and exercise,” stresses Dr. Patil. “We aim to provide the highest level of care for patients, and for many this is achieved through enrolling in a clinical trial.”

To learn more about our active clinical trials in the area of liver disease or to find out about upcoming fibroscan events, visit our website at www.dhrresearch.org or call (956) 362-2390.

DHR Health Institute for Research and Development is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organized under the Texas Nonprofit Corporation Act.

DHR Health Institute for Research and Development leads the way for innovative clinical research in the Rio Grande Valley. For more information, please call (956) 362-2390 or visit our website at www.dhrresearch.org.