Hepatotropic pathogens

Goals and setup of the WG hepatotropic pathogens

Within the WG hepatotropic pathogens there is an interest in mapping the entire translational pathway related to HCV infection, cure or transition to chronic phase with the corresponding implications.

The objective is to make significant scientific advances in the knowledge of HCV transmission routes, disease courses, re-infection, chronicity and subsequent consequences in order to translate it into the development of new strategies in the context of prevention and treatment of infections and to prevent/treat chronic complications.

The aim of the WG hepatotropic pathogens is responding to the needs of all stakeholders:

  • Patient: prevention, personalized therapy, drug resistance problems
  • Company: safe and affordable care
  • Doctor: diagnostic biomarkers, epidemiological data, post-transplant parameters
  • Researchers: access to clinical data / knowledge set, underlying genetic processes

Through the cooperation of the various partners in the CRC (see map ), it is possible to:

  • Identify a sufficient number of patients in several well -defined (pre) clinical stages of the disease for inclusion in observational and interventional studies .
  • identify objective biological criteria for the selection and monitoring of patients in such studies and for the determination of the efficacy of various tested interventions.
  • Have access to human liver tissue , DNA, blood samples and standardized cell preparations
  • Have access to innovative drugs and bio-industry , for basic research and for clinical studies.

The focus biobank hepatotropic pathogens stated as priority goals:

  1. Cell-cell transmission of hepatitis C and the clinical implications:
    1. Intra-host dynamics in HCV
    2. Link HCV, hepatocellular carcinoma, cirrhosis and end-stage liver disease
    3. The accompanying the clinical implications in re-infection in transplant setting
    4. Development of clinical tools for prediction of response to therapy and therapeutic decision guides
  2. In vivo evaluation of potential new antiviral strategies
  3. B-cell mediated HCV transmission, and clinical implications
    1. HCV and B-lymphocytes
    2. Infected B-lymphocytes and hepatocytes
  4. Epidemiological studies on the distribution of the various HCV genotypes.
  5. Optimization and clinical validation of novel serological assays, Q-PCR assays and genotyping assays in support of good diagnostic tools for characterization.

The importance of the focus biobank hepatotropic pathogens also emerges from the recent plan by the Minister of Health Laurette Onkelinx (PS) and Minister of Welfare Jo Vandeurzen. A plan to tackle hepatitis was agreed upon. The hepatitis plan foresees, in addition to a system for screening risk groups, that free anonymous tests in hospitals are possible. Also, repayment processes reviewed in the plan, with repayment of the treatment no longer depend on the performance of a biopsy. Refunds of vaccinations and also new drugs being re-evaluated.
 
Currently, there is a certain treatment plan for hepatitis viruses. The table below lists them, as well as a number of crucial questions that still exist in this context.

Treatment HAV HBV HCV HDV HEV
acute none none interferon    
chronic  

Interferon-a + riba Direct antiviral treatment

  • Protease inhibit.
  • Polymerase inh.

Interferon-a + riba Directe antivirale

  • Protease inhibit.
  • Polymerase inh.
  Interferon-a + riba
Prevention Sanitation, vaccination safe blood, IVDU, safe sex, vaccination Veilig bloed, IVDU HBV vaccination Sanitation hygiëne meat preparation blood products ? contact with animals
Vaccination inactivated HAV HBsAg none HBsAg 2 candidate vaccines

 

Several research projects were proposed within the focus biobank, in which actively is being contributed:

  1. Project 1: Identification of ‘immune correlates’ for clearance/protection in HCV infection (lead CRC Gent)
  2. Project 2: HEV research: characterization of HEV variants and identification of new antiviral molecules in in vitro and in vivo models (lead CRC Gent)
  3. Project 3: HCV DAA: identification of the effectiveness and success rate of DAA therapy. Exploration of possible alternatives for chronic HCV patients (lead CRC Gent)
  4. Project 4: Hepatocellular carcinoma and cirrosis: prognostic markers (lead CRC Gent)
  5. Project 5: Epidemiological study into the distribution of several HCV genotypes  (all CRCs - colaboration)
  6. Project 6: “China on the Scheldt” (lead: CRC Antwerp).
  7. Project 7: “Modern liver predictions”: Advanced systems biology study of liver biopsies to predict disease progression of HCV and HBV (lead CRC Antwerp)
  8. Project 8: Viral load in semen (lead CRC Gent)