Latest episode of IGTP’s 'Un Bri de Ciència' takes on viral hepatitis
To mark World Hepatitis Day, the podcast 'Un Bri de Ciència' dedicates an episode to viral hepatitis, specifically focusing on Hepatitis B and C, which are considered to be the most severe types. Researcher Elisa Martró unravels what we know about these diseases and discusses her projects, both in the hospital setting and in communities, working with vulnerable populations. The podcast enhances the mission of awareness and dissemination of the Germans Trias i Pujol Research Institute (IGTP).
Viral hepatitis is a group of diseases that affect the liver. They are caused by viruses from different families, with Hepatitis B and C having the greatest impact on public health, affecting 354 million people worldwide. In many cases, these infections are asymptomatic, but the damage to the liver accumulates over time and can lead to cirrhosis or cancer. Therefore, their diagnosis is of utmost importance.
In the third episode of 'Un Bri de Ciència', Elisa Martró, an IGTP researcher and member of the Microbiology Service at the Germans Trias i Pujol University Hospital (HUGTiP), reviews the key aspects of viral hepatitis. She also explains the projects she is running both from the hospital and at external centres amongst the groups most affected by these diseases.
Since 2015, IGTP's Pathogen Diagnostics and Genomic Epidemiology group, led by Elisa, has performed community screenings and referred over 3500 individuals from various vulnerable populations for Hepatitis C treatment. Approximately half of these individuals have also been screened for Hepatitis B or HIV. This work has been made possible through collaborations with NGOs, harm reduction centres, hospitals, and research groups.
The development of a pioneering diagnostic technique in Spain has been equally significant. It detects Hepatitis C virus RNA in samples of dried blood spots, enabling the identification of individuals who require treatment. This technique was implemented in HUGTiP's routine diagnosis in mid-2022 as part of the Hepatitis C Prevention and Control Plan in Catalonia.
The hospital is currently working on identifying patients who, despite being previously diagnosed with Hepatitis C, had not accessed antiviral treatment, and on screening people who pass through the Emergency Department, with over 1300 individuals screened so far.