A POTENTIAL treatment for liver failure could avoid the need for transplants, scientists say.

The liver has the ability to repair itself, but those damaged by injuries such as drug overdoses lose this.

Researchers believe they might be able to restore the potential using a class of drugs being developed as an anti-cancer therapy.

They stressed the work is at an early stage but could make a huge difference to liver patients.

Around 200 Brits suffer sudden life-threatening liver failure every year

The teams from Edinburgh University and the Beatson Institute for cancer research in Glasgow found liver injury triggers an ageing process called senescence, where cells stop working.

They found that a chemical signal appeared to be responsible, and in tests on mice blocked the signal with the anti-cancer drugs.

Study leader Dr Tom Bird said: “New treatments like this which set liver regeneration free and may prevent the need for liver transplants would make a huge difference.

“They may also allow us to use livers for other patients who might otherwise die waiting for a suitable donor.”