Appointment of Xavier Forns, Group leader
The treatment of hepatitis C with antiviral agents is an extraordinary example of how the collaboration between basic and clinical scientists can advance a field

Current research

Problem

Viral hepatitis, mainly hepatitis C and B, is the main cause of cirrhosis, hepatocellular carcinoma and liver mortality worldwide. In the case of hepatitis B virus infection (HBV, with or without HDV), there is no curative treatment, so conducting research in this area is a challenge.

Apart from diseases caused by viruses, liver toxicity due to drugs is a reality that is increasingly prevalent in our society and requires special attention. Finally, metabolic diseases caused by copper accumulation (Wilson disease) or iron (hemochromatosis) are rare disorders that develop into cirrhosis if they are not diagnosed and treated early.

Approach

In the field of viral hepatitis, advances in knowledge of the interaction between the virus and the immune response are key to understanding the natural history of the disease and the development of new therapeutic targets.

In the case of metabolic and toxic liver disease, epidemiological studies and the search for factors (genetic or environmental) that intervene in the disease’s development are expanding fields.

Impact

The group has made significant contributions to the study of the impact of curing hepatitis C, especially on the treatment (with antiretrovirals) in patients with advanced hepatopathy and associated extrahepatic manifestations. In the future, the studies that it has initiated will help to better understand the immunological factors involved in the evolution of hepatitis and to more accurately identify patients at the greatest risk of complications arising from these diseases.