1Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, University Hospital Freiburg, Germany.
2Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, University Hospital Lausanne, Switzerland.
3INSERM U1052, Cancer Research Center of Lyon (CRCL);Hepatology Department;Hospices Civils de Lyon, France. Electronic address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The EASL Monothematic Conference on Translational Research in Viral Hepatitis brought together a group of leading scientists and clinicians working on both, basic and clinical aspects of viral hepatitis, thereby building bridges from bench to bedside. This report recapitulates the presentations and discussions at the conference held in Lyon, France on November 29-30, 2013. In recent years, great advances have been made in the field of viral hepatitis, particularly in hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. The identification of IL28B genetic polymorphisms as a major determinant for spontaneous and treatment-induced HCV clearance was a seminal discovery. Currently, hepatologists are at the doorstep of even greater advances, with the advent of a wealth of directly acting antivirals (DAAs) against HCV. Indeed, promising results have accumulated over the last months and few years, showing sustained virological response (SVR) rates of up to 100% with interferon-free DAA combination therapies. Thus, less than 25 years after its identification, HCV infection may soon be curable in the vast majority of patients, highlighting the great success of HCV research over the last decades. However, viral hepatitis and its clinical complications such as liver cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) remain major global challenges. New therapeutic strategies to tackle hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis D virus (HDV) infection are needed, as current therapies have undeniable limitations. Nucleoside/nucleotide analogues (NUC) can efficiently control HBV replication and reduce or even reverse liver damage. However, these drugs have to be given for indefinite periods in most patients to maintain virological and biochemical responses. Although sustained responses off treatment can be achieved by treatment with (pegylated) interferon-α, only about 10-30% of patients effectively resolve chronic hepatitis B. It was the goal of this conference to review the progress made over the last years in chronic viral hepatitis research and to identify key questions that need to be addressed in order to close the gap between basic and clinical research and to develop novel preventive and treatment approaches for this most common cause of liver cirrhosis and HCC.