The Liver Institute Focuses on Changing Lives
By Johann Correos, BS, CCRCResearch Center Manager, The Liver InstituteMethodist Dallas Medical Center
There’s a well-kept secret on the Methodist Dallas Medical Center campus, which for liver disease patients, could mean a new lease on life. The Liver Institute at Methodist Dallas sponsors an active program of clinical research focused on patients suffering from liver disease as a result of hepatitis C, hepatitis B, and other liver diseases. Currently, The Institute has 25 clinical trials underway. A vast majority of the trials — around 90 percent — are based on hepatitis C with the other 10 percent focused on other liver diseases including Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).
There is a growing interest on the part of the medical community as well as the general public in liver disease. Recent guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that baby boomers be screened for hepatitis C because of this population’s experience with and exposure to blood transfusions, IV drug use, surgery, military immunizations, and other circumstances.
I’m proud to say that The Institute is a major tertiary referral center for North Texas and the surrounding regions. Independently practicing physicians at The Institute meet the needs of both referring physicians and patients alike.
Due to its active program of wide-ranging studies, The Institute’s reputation for clinical research continues to grow locally, regionally, and nationally, which in turn enhances the care patients receive at Methodist Dallas and The Institute.
In late 2011, The Institute announced that is was involved in several clinical trials using a newer generation of drugs for the treatment of chronic hepatitis C. The trials will focus on a second generation of direct-acting antiviral drugs for hepatitis C that are very potent and may shorten the duration of therapy in a number of patients. These antiviral drugs offer the hope for eradication of the disease for patients who have experienced and failed treatment in the past.
When patients are referred to The Institute, I meet with them to explain what to expect from their participation in the clinical trial, including the details about the treatment regimen, the length of the study, and expected side effects. Once they are enrolled in the clinical trial and are on the medication, we work to boost their spirits and maintain their enthusiasm for the research. Side effects from the medication can include fatigue, nausea, and irritability. We are here and available to patients throughout the trial — to listen and understand what they’re going through, to be accommodating to their needs, and to help motivate them to stay on the regimen.
I’m overjoyed to report that the majority of participants in the clinical trials are clearing the virus in 12 to 24 weeks, a significantly shorter period of time compared to the traditional treatment regimen of 48 weeks.
You can probably tell that I’m passionate about my job. My passion, dedication, and joy stem from my personal experience with friends who have fought cancer and had no support system. Motivation and support from the clinical staff are powerful components of successful treatment. What patients find at The Institute offers not only excellent care, but empathetic care.
I’m rewarded every day by seeing our patients’ successes and how their lives are changed for the better. After our patients recover, it’s not unusual for them to come back for a visit, introduce their family members, and share their plans for the next phases of their lives.
If you’re ready to support patients in their quest for health by participating in clinical research, then it’s time to choose Methodist Health System. Learn more by visiting Jobs.MethodistHealthSystem.org.
© Methodist Health System
Texas law prohibits hospitals from practicing medicine. The physicians on the Methodist Health System medical staff, including those practicing at The Liver Institute at Methodist Dallas, are independent practitioners who are not employees or agents of Methodist Health System, or any of its affiliated hospitals.