Appointment of Xavier Forns, Group leader (R4)
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-related 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 an increasing problem in our society and requires special attention. Finally, metabolic diseases caused by copper (Wilson disease) or iron (hemochromatosis) accumulation are rare disorders that develop into cirrhosis if they are not diagnosed and treated early.

Approach

In the field of viral hepatitis, advances in the  knowledge of the interactions between the virus and the immune responses 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 are involved in diseases’ outcomes 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 direct acting antivirals) in patients with advanced liver diseases and associated extrahepatic manifestations. In the future, studies aimed at analyzing immunological factors involved in the evolution of hepatitis (particularly hepatitis B) and to identify patients at the greatest risk of complications will be crucial.