'Traffic light test' could spot liver disease earlier

A "traffic light test" using blood levels of the biomarkers hyaluronic acid and procollagen-3 N-terminal peptide--as well as the platelet count--has been tested at University of Southampton, U.K., and could be used by primary care doctors to diagnose liver fibrosis and cirrhosis, allowing patients to get treatment much more quickly. Known as the Southampton Traffic Light (STL) test, it gives the results in three colors--red for fibrosis and possible cirrhosis, amber for possible scarring and increased risk of death, and green for no sign of liver scarring. Professor Sir Ian Gilmore, chair of the Alcohol Health Alliance, said: "One of the challenges of liver disease, which is rising dramatically in this country, is the silent nature of the condition until it is often too late to reverse the damage. This … may prove really useful for guiding the right patients towards specialist care in a timely way." Press release | Paper