Cedars-Sinai pioneer in bioartificial liver technology to speak at 'Digestive Disease Week' in San Diego

May 22, 2000

Achilles A. Demetriou, M.D., Ph.D., the key developer of a system designed to extend the lives of patients suffering from liver failure, will update his colleagues on the device's success during Digestive Disease Week 2000, being held May 21 through 24 at the San Diego Convention Center.

Dr. Demetriou's presentation will be part of DDW's Combined Clinical Symposia, which usually draws more than 900 attendees and is scheduled to begin at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, May 23. He will present information on the bioartificial liver (BAL) during the session titled "Recent Developments in the Treatment of Acute Liver Failure."

The chairman of Cedars-Sinai's Department of Surgery, Dr. Demetriou began to study the biologic mechanisms and functions of liver cells while at the National Institutes of Health in the 1970s. The BAL, an external device to cleanse the blood of patients whose livers have failed -- providing time for their own organs to recover or for a donor liver to become available for transplantation -- became a therapeutic reality in the mid-1990s.

The first device of its kind to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration for patient treatment, it has completed a Phase I clinical trial at Cedars-Sinai and is now in a large Phase II/Phase III multi-center study. Dr. Demetriou is the lead investigator.

Called bioartificial because it is made partly of biologic material-- billions of liver cells from pigs -- and partly of man-made materials, the device consists primarily of a cartridge that contains a synthetic membrane, and a machine that controls the flow of blood plasma through the cartridge.

Using a catheter, the patient's blood is removed at a fixed rate and separated into serum and plasma. The plasma flows through the fibers of the cartridge, where it is detoxified and re-nourished by the porcine liver cells. It also goes through a charcoal column for further filtration, then is reconstituted with the serum and returned to the patient at the same rate at which it was removed.

In addition to his participation as a featured speaker at DDW, Dr. Demetriou will be interviewed for DDW Live!, a program that will air on monitors throughout the convention center and in major hotels. He also will speak at a "Meet-the-Professor" luncheon on May 24, during which he will have an opportunity to discuss the bioartifical liver system with a small group of professionals.
Digestive Disease Week serves as the combined Annual Meetings of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases, the American Gastroenterological Association, the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy, and the Society for Surgery of the Alimentary Tract.

For media information and to arrange an interview, please call 800-396-1002 ext. 102 or ext. 52. Thanks for not publishing these numbers in stories.

Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

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