Hope for Hep C cure: No excuse for risk-taking, expert warns

Professor Geoff McCaughan

Exciting early indications of a cure for Hepatitis C do not mean we should become complacent about the risks of contracting the debilitating disease, a leading Australian researcher warns.

Professor Geoff McCaughan, right, head of the Liver Immunobiology Program at Sydney’s Centenary Institute of medical research, says preliminary results of a newly developed oral treatment regime for liver transplant patients with Hepatitis C were showing promising results.

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International award for Centenary stalwart

Liver DiseaseCongratulations to Professor Geoff McCaughan the head of Centenary’s Liver Injury and Cancer research program and director of the Australian National Liver Transplant Unit at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital who has won this year’s Distinguished Service Award of the International Liver Transplantation Society (ILTS).

The award was presented today at ILTS’s International Conference held in Sydney and has been presented annually since 1993 to a member of the Society who has demonstrated outstanding service to ILTS and is a recognized leader in the area of liver transplantation. The list reads like a Who’s Who of transplantation.

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Centenary scientist named “lab legend” by The Australian

In South-East Asia alone, 130 million people carry the hepatitis virus – a statistic well known to Centenary liver scientist, Dr Thomas Tu, whose family members have been affected by the disease.

Vietnam 2010 600 (2)In an article by The Australian today, Dr Tu explains, “seeing people with the disease has been a driver in keeping me passionate about my research. Family members have contracted the disease, but no one talks about it. They are worried about telling workmates because of the stigma.”

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Preventable liver disease costs more than diabetes

Sydney team hopes to reduce the burden with research-led intervention

Professor Geoff McCaughan

Professor Geoff McCaughan

Liver diseases have an impact on the Australian economy 40 per cent greater than chronic kidney disease and Type 2 diabetes combined, according to a report released today.

The report estimates the annual burden of liver diseases in Australia at more than $50 billion. And yet almost all liver disease is preventable.

The Centenary Institute’s liver research unit is one of the biggest in Australia. It is also one of first in the world to try to come to grips with liver damage at its most fundamental molecular level.

Head of research into liver disease and damage at Centenary, Professor Geoff McCaughan, and his team are focusing their research on promoting liver health, and understanding how chronic liver damage can develop into liver cancer. Continue reading

A Positive Move Towards Fewer Liver Transplants

The government’s announcement for the inclusion of two new drugs to treat the hepatitis C virus (HCV) in the pharmaceutical benefits scheme has been welcomed by Professor Geoff McCaughan, Head of Liver Injury and Cancer at the Centenary Institute and Head of Liver Transplant Unit, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital.

Geoff McCaughan

Professor McCaughan is a world leader in hepatitis and liver disease research

The subsidy essentially means these very expensive drugs have become more accessible for those undergoing treatment and marks the first breakthrough in a decade for treatment of this chronic condition.

Professor McCaughan said that “this is a giant leap forward in reducing the need for liver transplants in Australia and it’s a great day for patients who suffer from chronic hepatitis C in this country.

“The introduction of these drugs means that we can cure up to 75 per cent of patients with genotype 1 hepatitis C – the most common strain of the disease. Treatment time will also be cut in half for many patients, from one year to six months.”

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Insight Centenary: A blog series from our scientists

by Thomas Tu, postdoctoral research officer, liver cell biology laboratory.

Morning (7-9am)

Insight Centenary

Thomas Tu is the lastest member of our Liver Cell Biology lab

Sometimes the little scientist in me wakes up early. Catching the train, I look around and I’m surrounded by walking, talking, reading ecosystems. Crowding along the platform are sentient islands of interactions between billions of cells. Healthy environments are self-correcting, stable and all work to a common harmonious goal. Mostly, our bodies are no different: many (such as the respiratory, immune, and nervous) systems working together seamlessly. They are deeply complex; each system is composed of organs that are, in turn, made up of tissues that are composed of cells.

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Fewer liver transplants look to be on the horizon

Liver transplants

Professor Geoff McCaughan is at the frontier of liver transplantation.

The latest of a set of new therapies to treat hepatitis C virus (HCV) infections are so effective they could reduce the need for liver transplantation dramatically.

That’s the view of Professor Geoff McCaughan, Head of the Liver Injury and Cancer research program at the Centenary Institute, and Director of the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital’s liver transplant program. And he has put it forward in a deliberately speculative paper on the frontiers of liver transplantation released in the Journal of Hepatology, one of the world’s most important liver publications.

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Students tie for first place in 2012 USYD Immunology and Infectious Diseases Honours program

Vascular Research

Congratulations to Elizabeth Powter (Vascular Biology) and David MacDonald (Liver Immunology), who tied for first place in the class of 2012 USYD Immunology and Infectious Diseases Honours program. There were 19 students in the program this year, 9 of whom were based at the Centenary Institute.

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Broadening the possibilities for liver transplantation

Geoff McCaughn

Prof Geoff McCaughan will be speaking at world’s largest liver conference.

Research opens the advantages of organ transfer to wider groups of people, including heart patients and reformed addicts.

People on methadone programs or with certain forms of heart disease are among liver patients who could now benefit from transplantation, Professor Geoff McCaughan head of the Centenary Institute’s Liver Injury and Cancer research program will tell the world’s largest annual conference of liver specialists in Boston today.

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Number of people worldwide with hepatitis would fill over 6,000 Olympic stadiums **

Dr Nick Shackel, Associate Faculty, Liver Cell Biology, Liver Injury & Cancer. Photo by Kat Finch.

Dr Shackel studies the genes that are triggered when hepatitis strikes. He hopes his work will lead to a better and earlier understanding of the likely course of the disease in individual patients.

Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver caused by infection with a virus. The virus types B and C that lead to chronic conditions are the most common causes of liver scarring or cirrhosis and of liver cancer.  It is typically diagnosed after people visit their GPs complaining of extreme tiredness and is picked up through a routine blood test, which can even distinguish the type.

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