Medical Staff Pulse Newsletter

P and T Approvals, Details About Tramadol Change

Pharmacy Focus

See highlights of the Aug. 5 meeting of the Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee. Also, more details are available about tramadol's new status as a controlled substance.

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Meetings and Events

Grand Rounds

Click here to view upcoming grand rounds.

Upcoming CME Conferences

Click below to view a complete list of all scheduled Continuing Medical Education conferences.

CME Newsletter - September (PDF)


Do you know of a significant event in the life of a medical staff member? Please let us know, and we'll post these milestones in Medical Staff Pulse. Also, feel free to submit comments on milestones, and we'll post the comments in the next issue. Click here to email us your milestones and comments.

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Share Your News

Won any awards or had an article accepted for publication? Share your news about professional achievements and other items of interest.

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Researchers Test Bioartificial Liver

Cedars-Sinai physicians and scientists are testing a human-cell-based, bioartificial liver support system for patients with acute liver failure, often a fatal diagnosis.

"The quest for a device that can fill in for the function of the liver, at least temporarily, has been underway for decades. A bioartificial liver, also known as a BAL, could potentially sustain patients with acute liver failure until their own livers self-repair," said Steven D. Colquhoun, MD, surgical director of Liver Transplantation at the Cedars-Sinai Comprehensive Transplant Center.

The ELAD investigational bioartificial liver support system

Colquhoun is leading an investigation at Cedars-Sinai to assess the safety and effectiveness of the ELAD bioartificial liver system, which is designed by Vital Therapies Inc., the sponsor of the clinical trials. Most of the 49 sites currently involved in the investigation are in the U.S., but studies also are underway in Europe and Australia. The research at Cedars-Sinai involves patients with liver disease caused by acute alcoholic hepatitis, a group with few therapeutic options.

In the bioartificial liver under investigation, blood is drawn from the patient via a central venous line and then is filtered through a component system featuring four tubes, each about 1 foot long, which are embedded with liver cells. The external organ support system is designed to perform critical functions of a normal liver, including protein synthesis and the processing and cleaning of a patient's blood. The filtered and treated blood is returned to the patient through the central line.

"If successful, a bioartificial liver could not only allow time for a patient's own damaged organ to regenerate, but also promote that regeneration. In the case of chronic liver failure, it also potentially could support some patients through the long wait for a liver transplant," Colquhoun said.

Devices that do the work of human organs have been used successfully for years. Patients with kidney disease can use dialysis, and those with cardiac problems have ventricular assist devices or artificial hearts available to support or replace vital organ functions.

"Liver failure patients and their doctors have long been frustrated by the critical need to provide the kind of life-saving care kidney patients are afforded by dialysis. This important investigation we are undertaking at Cedars-Sinai is a critical step in addressing the medical emergency presented by liver failure," said Andrew S. Klein, MD, director of the Comprehensive Transplant Center and the Esther and Mark Schulman Chair in Surgery and Transplantation Medicine.

A drawing shows how the bioartificial liver system works. Images courtesy of Vital Therapies Inc.