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Viral hepatitis

Wednesday 16 February 2011

Viral hepatitis is the most common cause of acute or chronic liver disease and hepatocellular carcinoma. Worldwide, more than 2 billion people in the world have been infected with hepatitis B virus (350 million carriers). Hepatitis C, the other hepatitis virus responsible for many chronic infections, is also spread all over the world and WHO has estimated that about 180 million people are infected. In the Netherlands, prevalence of both viruses is below 0,5%. But still, several ten thousands of people have been infected. Means to control spread of viral hepatitis include hygienic measures, education, vaccination as well as treatment of current infections. Antiviral medication, however, leads to viral resistance, as is currently the case with hepatitis B and will become more and more important for hepatitis C.

Antiviral escape is one of the major themes in research at the Virology department of the UMC Utrecht. Interaction between the virus and the immune system, viral escape from the immune system and from medication, evaluation and prevention of antiviral drug resistance and transmission of (resistant) viruses are under investigation. Recently and in the short future, new therapies are developed and become available, that may lead to new developments in viral resistance. Quickly changing viruses ask continuously for new assay developments, adaptation in diagnostics, and more research.

Major items in viral hepatitis research are:
- Genetic and non-genetic factors determining the immune response to hepatitis viruses
- Interaction between the virus and the immune system
- Development of diagnostics in response to the virus, resistance and changing medication.

These research items are a collaboration between the departments of Medical Microbiology and Internal Medicine & Infectious Diseases. The research on hepatitis covers all phases from molecular biology till phase I, II and III studies, in the Netherlands as well as abroad.

Elisa, Cell isolation, culture, PCR, sequencing and other molecular techniques, data-evaluation, statistical analysis.

6 or 9 months

Dr. G.J. Boland, G.J.Boland@umcutrecht.nl
Dr. A. Wensing, A.M.J.Wensing@umcutrecht.nl