Health Highlights: June 1, 2009

A genetic link associated with drug-induced liver injury in some people who take the antibiotic Flucloxacillin has been identified by the International Serious Adverse Event Consortium (SAEC). Flucloxacillin is widely used in Europe and Australia but isn't sold in the United States.

Researchers found that the HLA-B*5701 gentype was associated with Flucloxacillin-related liver injury. HLA-B is one of a number of highly variable genes on chromosome 6 that control immune function. The findings, published in the July issue of the journal Nature Genetics, may help identify patients at increased risk for drug-induced liver injury (DILI).

"These findings provide the research community with novel genomic data on DILI events and make an important contribution to the science of drug safety," Dr. Janet Woodcock, director of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said in a news release. "By making these data available, the research community will have better tools to evaluate predictive biomarkers for adverse events such as DILI. This type of collaborative research will eventually reduce a patient's likelihood of experiencing serious, and sometimes life-threatening, adverse drug events."

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