2012 - 07 - 31 International Hepatitis Day
Saturday July 28, 2012 was dedicated to the second official International Hepatitis Day organized by the World Health Organization (WHO). Viral hepatitis kills about one million people every year. In addition, an estimated 500 million people experience chronic illness from their infection with hepatitis; it is a major cause of liver cirrhosis and liver cancer. For World Hepatitis Day, WHO is urging governments to strengthen efforts to fight viral hepatitis.
At CRP-Santé, the Laboratory of Retrovirology is currently working on the transmission and on the risk factors associated with hepatitis C virus (HCV) genotype in collaboration with the “Service des Maladies Infectieuses” of the Centre Hospitalier de Luxembourg (CHL). HCV is among the most common viruses that infect the liver. Every year, 3–4 million people around the world are infected with the hepatitis C virus. About 150 million people are chronically infected and at risk of developing liver cirrhosis and/or liver cancer. More than 350 000 people die from hepatitis C-related liver diseases every year.
Worldwide, an estimated two billion people have been infected with the hepatitis B virus (HBV) and more than 240 million have chronic HBV infections. About 600 000 people die every year due to the acute or chronic consequences of hepatitis B. A vaccine against hepatitis B has been available since 1982. Hepatitis B vaccine is 95% effective in preventing infection, and is the first vaccine against a major human cancer. At CRP-Santé, the Department of Immunology has been working for 10 years on the hepatitis B virus. 20 studies have been concluded and published in peer-reviewed scientific journals. These studies especially focus on the genetic surveillance, on virus transmission channels and the virus molecular evolution in more than 15 countries on four continents, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, in the former Soviet Republics and in Southeast Asia. In Laos, Nigeria, Cameroon and the Central African Republic, the group has found new variants of HBV.
For instance in Laos, it's all about understanding how new hepatitis B viruses result from mixed infections with different variants in the same patient. In collaboration with the Central Blood Bank the so-called occult (hidden) infections are investigated in order to make donated blood safer.
In Haiti and Cuba, two countries, where the descendants of former African slaves make up a significant proportion of the population, the typical HBV variants that occur in Africa today have not been found, although the virus is passed down from generation to generation. This raises the question whether these HBV variants already existed at the time of the slave trade in the 18th and 19th Century in Africa or whether the virus variants have developed there only later.
The Department of Immunology makes an important contribution in understanding the routes of infection. New laboratory methods are introduced in the partner laboratories and laboratory staff is trained. This gives the public health system in the partner countries new insights into these important infectious diseases and the technical skills of the laboratory and its staff are sustainably supported.
Further information about Prof. Claude P. Muller, Department of Immunology
Prof. Claude P. Muller is the scientific Head of the Department of Immunology, WHO Collaborating Center for Measles and the WHO European Reference Center for Measles and Rubella. The Department is part of the Centre de Recherche Public de la Santé and the National Public Health Laboratory in Luxembourg. He is Honorarprofessor of Immunology at the University of Trier (Germany), Associate Professor of Experimental Medicine (viral diseases) at the University of Homburg (Germany), and Visiting Associate Professor of Immunology at the University of Ibadan (Nigeria). He teaches also at the Doctoral School BIOSE of the University of Nancy (France).
He has published >250 original papers in peer reviewed international journals (virology, immunology, molecular biology) including invited book chapters and reviews and has provided >570 contributions to international scientific conferences and >230 invited talks. He has developed 3 patents.