Diagnosis of liver damage could be made faster and more accurate with information from a recent research project.
A group of scientists at the University of Liverpool had used paracetamol to observe the ways in which the liver reacts to temporary stress.
The results showed that certain proteins were produced when a group of mice were given a mild overdose of the drug.
It was then shown to be possible to use these proteins to identify the point at which cell death in the liver occurred, as well as the type of cell death and the extent of any damage to the organ.
Dr Dominic Williams from the University's Medical Research Council Centre for Drug Safety Science, commented: "The findings are significant because knowing how the cells die will allow development of medicines to help them survive, and may also distinguish patients who have severe injury and require intensive care from those who have mild injury."