Chronic viral infection and cancer

One traumatic outcome of some highly prevalent virus infections is the development of cancer. HBV and HCV cause chronic hepatitis, without medical intervention, leading to liver cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma. Together, these two viruses impact 400 million people worldwide (250 million HBV infections, 150 million HCV infections). Similarly, HPV infection, with a prevalence of about 40% in the adult population, can cause cancer in different areas of the body, representing the most common sexually transmitted infection. While there is highly effective HBV and HPV vaccines, coverage remains sub-optimal and new cases continue to occur worldwide. Revolutionary direct antivirals (DAAs) are now able to cure HCV infection with over 95% efficacy.

The challenges are:

  1. The lack of potent antivirals to cure HBV and HPV patients;
  2. The absence of HCV vaccines to prevent new infections;
  3. How to scale up implementation of HCV testing and DAAs treatment to eliminate HCV infection in Canada;
  4. Management of chronic coinfections with HIV, HCV, HBV and/or HPV, and their associated co-morbidities.

Exciting research programs have been initiated at MCVD to reduce the burden of HPV and HCV infections in Canada through vaccination, infection screening, and implementation of DAA treatment. Researchers affiliated with the Centre are developing databases on chronic HBV and NASH and are poised to carry out clinic research studies aimed at HBV cure and developing treatment options for NASH.

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