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Royal Surrey Researchers Helping Talented Drama Student

Published on: 11 Apr, 2016
Updated on: 12 Apr, 2016

Emma Liver Research RSCHA talented drama student left bed bound and struggling to talk by a rare liver disease is being helped by researchers at Royal Surrey County Hospital.

Emma Gaul was forced to put her plans for drama school on hold when she was diagnosed with Wilson’s disease, a genetic disorder which causes a toxic overload of copper in the body.

The illness progressed rapidly and left the teenager with neurological difficulties and cirrhosis of the liver, more commonly associated with people who drink too much alcohol.

The teenager from Warrenpoint, Northern Ireland, is now the first patient taking part in a clinical trial at Royal Surrey County Hospital, one of two sites in the UK that has been chosen to trial the new drug, bis-chloline Tetrathiomolybdate (WTX101), with Professor Aftab Ala chosen as the principle investigator.

Professor Ala said: “The initial results have been encouraging and after a successful peer review, they will be presented at the European Association for Study of Liver Disease in Barcelona later this month.

“The problem with Wilson’s disease is actually getting to the right specialists and here at Royal Surrey we are a centre of excellence.”

Since Emma started the clinical trial the number of drugs she has to take has been reduced and her condition is improving.

Emma’s mother, Mrs Gaul, said: “Her liver has actually started to repair itself and all the blood tests show that things are improving.”

“Throughout everything, Emma has always had a fantastic attitude. As a mother, it has been hard to see your daughter, who should be going out with her friends and doing things she loves.

“We still have a long way to go, but thanks to Royal Surrey, Professor Ala and his team things are on the way up for Emma.”

Royal Surrey currently has 420 research studies open, involving more than 4,000 patients.

The 24-week Wilson’s disease trial is still recruiting and is open to any patient diagnosed with Wilson’s disease within the last year and aged 18 and over.

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