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Hepatitis C Virus (HCV)-clinical trials

The TGU has a particularly strong track record in the study of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. The clinical team is led by Jane Collier, Ellie Barnes, Katie Jeffererys, and Paul Klenerman. Over recent years we have cared for more than a thousand patients with HCV. Currently we treat more than 50 patients a year with pegylated-interferon and ribavirin therapy. Patients receive support from both clinical and research hepatitis specialist nurses. The aim of the hepatitis unit is to provide outstanding clinical care, and to sit at the forefront of clinical and basic research into HCV -that will ultimately serve to improve the treatment of our patients.

The care of patients with HCV is further facilitated by the Oxford NIHR BRC who has supported the development of a large cohort of patients with HCV in order to study the natural history of the disease, identify novel biomarkers of disease progression, and to recruit patients into studies of novel therapies. For further information on the Oxford NIHR BRC HCV cohort please see here.

The Barnes/Klenerman laboratory based at the Peter Medawar building, South Parks Rd, Oxford, are currently working to develop a prophylactic and therapeutic vaccine for HCV in collaboration with an industry partner. Patients with HCV are receiving novel vaccines using an adenoviral or MVA vectored approach, either alone or in combination with interferon and ribavirin in order to increase the chances of clearing the virus. These studies are funded by the Medical Reseach Council (UK) and the European Union.

Recent genome wide association studies (GWAS) in patients with HCV have identified genes linked to IL28B that are associated with treatment outcome. Host genotyping of IL28B is currently being performed at the Peter Medawar building.

In the next two years new protease and polymerase inhibitors for HCV will be available in the clinic. Studies using these novel drugs are due to begin in the unit early in 2011. Studies will involve patients who have failed previous treatment and patients who have never previously received treatment.

For further information on studies of HCV please contact Ellie Barnes.

Research projects in autoimmune liver disease

The translational gastrointestinal unit supports an active research programme into the study of autoimmune liver diseases-an umbrella term for progressive liver inflammation and fibrosis with an autoimmune aetiology, which frequently results in liver cirrhosis. This work is headed by Dr. Roger Chapman. The specific diseases include primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC), primary biliary cirrhosis (PSC), classical autoimmune liver disease (AIH), and IgG4 systemic disease.

The unit hosts the largest clinic for PSC patients in the country, with over 300 patients built up over 30 years. In collaboration with a Norwegian PSC Study Group, there is now an extensive data base that facilitates unique clinical studies into various aspects of the disease. Patients with PBC and AIH are also well represented in our clinics.