The £2.3 million clinical trial will test which is the better of two currently available different approaches to preventing deadly bleeding in patients with liver cirrhosis.

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One approach is the use of a drug while the other is concerned with treating the places that might bleed using an endoscope. The trial, known as CALIBRE, is the first large scale clinical trial to combine these two treatments.

Dr Dhiraj Tripathi, who is the Chief Investigator of CALIBRE as well as an Honorary Reader at the University of Birmingham (UoB), said that ‘the results could lead to a major shift in the management of patients with liver cirrhosis and varices, with significant implications for the NHS’.

The results could lead to a major shift in the management of patients with liver cirrhosis and varices

Peter Brocklehurst, Director of Birmingham Clinical Trials Unit at UoB (which is coordinating the trial) said he was ‘very optimistic that it will help us to find an answer to this really important research question in about six years’ time’.

Cirrhosis is when the liver is scarred by long-term liver damage, and can cause fatal liver failure. In the United Kingdom, it kills over 4,000 people a year. Though there is currently no cure for cirrhosis, it can be treated through methods such as those this trial deals with.

The trial is being funded by the National Institute of Health Research and research is being done by Birmingham Health Partners, a strategic alliance between UoB and several Birmingham NHS trusts, as well as other hospitals and universities.

The trial will be conducted nationally and all hospitals and research facilities equipped with gastroenterology and hepatology services will be able to participate.

A liver surgeon at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital was recently fined £10,000 and ordered to carry out 120 hours of unpaid work after pleading guilty to branding his initials on livers he transplanted.