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Liver disease researchers, stumped by a complex disease, are looking for new investigative tools. Artificial intelligence might be one of them. 

At a small conference of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases in Los Angeles last month, experts gathered to compare notes on nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, a form of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease commonly known as NASH. Some experts think nearly a quarter of adults in the United States have nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, which is characterized by fat buildup in the liver and is not caused by heavy alcohol use. Somewhere between 1.5 and 6.5% of adults have NASH, estimates suggest. Nearly 2 million people were diagnosed with NASH in 2020, according to a study of the disease’s prevalence.


Although NASH can lead to severe liver scarring (cirrhosis), inflammation and loss of function, there are no approved treatments for the disease. Researchers don’t even know for certain what causes NASH. 

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