In 2017, global virus elimination is the focus of World Hepatitis Day. Hepatitis C was first identified in 1989 and today we have drugs that destroy the virus. Associate Director of the MRC-University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research Professor John McLauchlan’s work contributed to this transformation. The real challenge now, he writes, is diagnosis.
This is my third blog post to mark World Hepatitis Day. In 2013 I shared our plans to help the NHS deliver the best treatment to patients through two research consortia, HCV Research UK and STOP-HCV. In 2015 I wrote about the impact of new anti-viral drugs, able to not just control the virus, as is the case for HIV, but rid people of their infection.
Thanks to new treatments, many people are now at a much lower risk of developing liver disease and there are reports of patients who no longer require a liver transplant.
HCV Research UK is collecting blood samples from 10,000 people with hepatitis C infection (Credit: Flickr/Chandra Marsono)
How do we know who’ll respond to drugs for hepatitis C? And how can this guide treatment? John McLauchlan, Associate Director of the MRC-University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research, tells us about two large research projects that are aiming to find out and take us a step closer to tailored treatment for the disease.
Devastated, angry, confused. These are just some of the ways people feel when they find out they’re infected with hepatitis C virus (HCV). The virus is thought to be carried by as many as 180 million people across the world. There is no vaccine available and although treatment can be successful, it is often accompanied by unpleasant side effects which can lead to people stopping treatment before it’s worked.
Chronic infection with HCV can lead to liver disease, and a heavy burden is being put on healthcare services as rates of liver disease related to HCV, such as cirrhosis or liver cancer, rise. Trying to predict who will develop these serious life threatening diseases and who will respond to treatment is very difficult. Read more