A drug which is currently used to treat arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease has been found to be effective in reversing severe liver disease.
A team of researchers at the University of Newcastle has found that the drug sulfasalazine can reverse the scarring associated with cirrhosis of the liver by blocking the production of proteins that keep the scar tissue cells alive, the BBC reports.
Although human clinical trials have not yet been carried out, the researchers believe that the drug could potentially provide an alternative to a liver transplant.
As well as helping previously heavy drinkers who have managed to give up alcohol, the drug could also potentially be given to alcoholics who have yet to succeed in the fight against their addiction.
Professor Chris Day, head of Newcastle University's school of clinical medical sciences, told the BBC: "Cirrhosis is the fifth highest cause of death in the UK today, and it would not be too optimistic to say this drug could halve that death rate."