Clinical Virology and New Diagnostic Approaches Research Group
The Research Group on Clinical Virology and New Diagnostic Approaches promotes multidisciplinary translational research to improve the diagnostics, prognostics and management ofinfections caused by viruses and other pathogens with an impact on clinical applications and public health. The Group is led by Elisa Martró, Miguel Servet Researcher in the National Health System, and is integrated with the Clinical and Experimental Microbiology Group, in the Microbiology Service at Hospital Universitari Germans Trias i Pujol.
Hepatitis C (HCV)
Viral hepatitis is an international public health challenge, comparable to other major communicable diseases, including HIV, tuberculosis and malaria. Currently, HCV infection can be cured by antiviral treatment. However, many infected people are unaware of their infection and, for those who are diagnosed, access to treatment is limited. Globally, the morbidity and mortality associated with HCV infection continues to increase, due to HCV-related complications including cirrhosis, hepatocellular carcinoma and liver failure.
The research activity of the Group in this line is focused on the study of HCV genetic variability in relation to:
- The prediction of response to antiviral treatments (baseline genetic diversity and resistance-associated substitutions)
- The prediction of the progression of hepatic fibrosis.
- The characterization of the molecular epidemiology of HCV (description of new subtypes, characterization of transmission events and networks).
We also work on the design and application of novel strategies and tools to improve the diagnosis of active infection by HCV in high-risk and difficult-to-reach populations, as the first step to treatment.
Other Viral Infections
The Group also studies other clinically-relevant viruses at the genetic level in order to improve their diagnosis, and to characterize their molecular epidemiology and clinical associations including cancer. These viruses include the Hepatitis B virus, the human Papillomavirus (VPH), the Molluscum contagiosum virus.
Other infectious diseases
The Group collaborates in the development and validation of molecular assays for the diagnosis of other infectious diseases. This is performed particularly in the field of sepsis, as a rapid microbiological diagnosis is crucial for patient survival (the Group actively collaborates in the research line on Molecular Diagnostics of Sepsis carried out in the Microbiology Service at the Germans Trias Hospital).
Epidemiology of Sexually Transmitted Infections
The prevalence of sexually transmitted infections (STI) is currently increasing worldwide.The Group collaborates with the CEEISCAT (Centre for Epidemiological Studies of Sexually Transmitted Infections and AIDS in Catalonia), as E. Martró and V. Saludes are part of Group 27 in the CIBER in Epidemiology and Public Health (CIBERESP), which is coordinated by Dr Jordi Casabona, the Director of CEEISCAT. Our research group has optimized various diagnostic techniques adapted for minimally invasive sampling (especially urine, saliva, and fingerpick blood) for the screening of STI in vulnerable populations attending alternative testing centers, contributing to their epidemiological characterization with public health applications.
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