Brooklyn, NY--Acetaminophen, the well-known and reliable over-the-counter analgesic, can cause serious damage to liver cells and tissues when an overdose is taken or it is used in combination with alcohol. In 1996 alone, 74,000 cases of acetaminophen toxicity were reported in the United States, according to United States Poison Control Centers figures.

A possible antidote to toxic doses of acetaminophen has been discovered by a professor at Long Island University's Brooklyn Campus. Sidhartha D. Ray of the University's Arnold & Marie Schwartz College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences has found that a novel grape seed extract (proanthycyanidin), known to have strong antioxidant properties, protects against acetaminophen-caused liver damage.

Working with colleagues at Creighton University, Ray pre-exposed male mice to non-toxic doses of the grape seed extract, followed either three or seven days later by acetaminophen at dose levels known to be toxic to the liver. Using several different blood, tissue and DNA measures, the seven-day pre-exposure to the grape seed extract appeared to afford what Ray describes as "dramatic protection" against liver damage caused by the toxic doses of acetaminophen.

Ray, who will present his results on April 21 at the Experimental Biology 98 meetings in San Francisco, conducted previous research to help define how acetaminophen causes cell death in the liver by affecting the DNA of the cells, contributing both to apoptosis (programmed cell death that occurs during cell renewal and the aging process) and necrosis (accidental or unprogrammed death of cells in response to physical injury or exposure to toxic substances.

"The results of this study show that the novel grape seed proanthycyanidin extract is a natural chemoprotectant and may be useful in defending cells against various environmental toxins," Ray explained.

An active researcher in the study of apoptosis, Ray is an active member of the Society of Toxicology, Research Society on Alcoholism and the Internal Society of Biomedical Research on Alcoholism. His laboratory received the prestigious American Academy of Clinical Toxicology Research Award (1995-96).

The Arnold & Marie Schwartz College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences is one of the oldest and largest schools of its kind in the country. Part of Long Island University's Brooklyn Campus, the College educates nearly one quarter of the pharmacists in New York State and many who find careers elsewhere. The school recently added PharmD and PhD degrees to its curriculum.

Experimental Biology '98 brings together more than 10,000 scientists from six of the world's leading scientific societies: the American Physiological Society, the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, the American Society for Investigative Pathology, the American Society for Nutritional Sciences, the American Association of Immunologists and the American Association of Anatomists.

For more information, please contact Michele Forsten, director of public relations at 718-488-1418 (email: [email protected]) or Sidhartha Ray at 718-488-1638 (email:[email protected]).

Embargoed until Tuesday, April 21, at 10:30 a.m.