The focus of the hepatitis programme is hepatitis C virus (HCV), which afflicts approximately 3% of the global population and is a major cause of liver disease. In the UK, it is estimated that 214,000 individuals are chronically infected with the virus. The recent development of direct-acting antivirals (DAAs) has substantially improved treatment success rates, defined as sustained virological response (SVR) rates, such that curing HCV infection is now possible in the majority of patients with access to therapy.
Mortality and morbidity arising from HCV-associated liver disease will continue to exert a substantial healthcare burden in the UK for the foreseeable future as HCV infection is usually asymptomatic until late stages. The disease is associated with health inequity, consequently the majority of those infected remain undiagnosed. Moreover, treatment is expensive and likely to be rationed such that patients with advanced disease are prioritised for therapy. Several patient groups are particularly challenging to treat even with DAAs including those with cirrhosis, those with genotype 3 (gt3) infection and those with renal dysfunction. The need for a vaccine therefore remains imperative.
Our work spans in vitro molecular approaches through to clinical studies for understanding HCV infection in vivo:
- Genetic diversity of hepatitis C virus at the human population level
- Immune response and host factors that control hepatitis C virus infection
- Design and development of an HCV B cell vaccine
The CVR has played a leading role in establishing HCV Research UK, a consortium that brings together major treatment centres for HCV across the UK together with national agencies to create a national cohort of patients that provides information and specimens for clinical and basic research. The CVR is the administering body and location of the HCV BioBank, which recruits patients and coordinates the 40 other centres to collect blood and other clinical information.
We are a partner organisation in STOP-HCV a stratified clinical trial facilitated via HCV Research UK (McLauchlan), providing the viral genomics component (Thomson).
The CVR is a founding member of the Glasgow HCV Network, which links our research programmes to clinical studies carried out by local clinicians and diagnostic services, healthcare professionals and mathematical modellers. The Glasgow HCV Network provides a vital interface between clinical and fundamental research to translate findings in basic research into benefits for patients.
Research interests: Our group study the functions of virus and host components during hepatitis C infection, particularly during viral RNA replication and virion assembly. We also develop systems to study clinical HCV infection as part of the Glasgow HCV Network and HCV Research UK.
Research interests: Our group study molecular aspects of hepatitis C virus infection and replication, specifically mechanisms of virus entry; neutralizing antibodies & vaccine development; virus-host interactions and identifying factors contributing to virus-associated progression of liver disease.
Research interests: My laboratory is focussed on the study of emerging viral infections with 2 main themes - acute hepatitis C infection and new and emerging infections in sub-Saharan Africa.