The AGA Journals Blog highlights the latest discoveries in gastroenterology and hepatology research.

The May issue of Gastroenterology features a very special supplement—“Viral Hepatitis: A Changing Field”—comprising 17 review and commentary articles from international leaders in hepatitis treatment and research. The issue provides insight into the rapid progress made in the treatment and management of patients with viral hepatitis, as well as our understanding of pathogenesis. All content is freely available.

In an introductory article, Anna Lok and Jean-Michel Pawlotsky state “no other field in hepatology and gastroenterology has grown more rapidly than viral hepatitis during the past 15 years, thanks to the considerable interest of the scientific community for diseases that involve over 500 million patients worldwide, active support for research from governments … and major drug industry investment for what promises to be an incredibly rewarding market for antiviral drugs.”

The issue covers a broad range of topics, from disease epidemiology and pathogenesis to patient mangement and disease prevention.

On the research end, Stanley Lemon and David McGivern discuss whether HCV is a direct carcinogen or simply a virus that induces inflammatory and profibrotic responses to cause cancer (see figure).

Is HCV a direct carcinogen (left) or does it promote cancer indirectly, by inducing inflammation and other responses (right)?

For clinicians,Stéphane Chevaliez, Christophe Rodriguez, and Jean-Michel Pawlotsky discuss the pros and cons of molecular biology techniques used to diagnose and monitor treatment of patients. These tools can detect and quantify viral genomes, analyze their sequence to determine their genotype or subtype, and identify nucleotide or amino acid substitutions that mediate resistance to antiviral drugs.

In a series of articles on hepatitis C therapy, Esperance Schaefer and Raymond Chung  review the new NS3/4A protease inhibitors, NS5B RNA-dependent RNA polymerase inhibitors, NS5A inhibitors, and reagents that target features of the host (such as cyclophilin inhibitors). They also discuss the effects of alternative interferons, which appear to have improved tolerability (specifically interferon-λ1 or interleukin-29).

Results from clinical trials do not always pertain to real clinical practice—Steven Scaglione and Anna Lok compare the efficacy of HBV drugs in clinical trials with their effectiveness in the real world. They discuss why having efficacious treatments alone would have a small impact on the global health burden of hepatitis B, and highlight the importance of education for the public and the medical community and coordination of care. Susanna Naggie and Mark Sulkowski discuss management of patients infected with HIV and HCV.

This comprehensive issue offers exciting and important information for everyone involved in viral hepatitis research, diagnosis and treatment, providing the latest and most exciting inputs from the world’s leaders in this field.

Review the full table of contents for the special issue.
Viral Hepatitis: A Changing Field. Gastroenterology 2012;142:1261–1398.

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Kristine Novak

Kristine Novak

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About The Author:

Dr. Kristine Novak

Dr. Kristine Novak

Dr. Kristine Novak is a science writer and editor based in San Francisco. She has extensive experience covering gastroenterology, hepatology, immunology, oncology, clinical, and biotechnology research discoveries.

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