ESCMID Study Group for Viral Hepatitis - ESGVH

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News & Activities

ESCMID Study Group for Viral Hepatitis note: Nobel Prize to hepatitis C virus pioneers

On 5th October 2020, the Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet decided to award the 2020 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine jointly to Harvey J. Alter, Michael Houghton and Charles M. Rice for the discovery of Hepatitis C virus (HCV).[1] These extraordinary scientists paved the way of hepatitis C understanding with three, fundamental, stones.


Professor Alter, with his 1974 seminal work on experimental infection of chimpanzees with human plasma/serum, demonstrated the existence of another hepatotropic virus apart from hepatitis A virus and hepatitis B virus, which was called “non-A, non-B” hepatitis virus.[2] But the mysterious virus remained undetected for more than a decade despite significant efforts made by several scientists. It was only in 1989 that the group leaded by Michael Houghton was able to identify the genome of the microorganism through the screening of complex library of cDNA from infectious materials. The culprit was identified as a Flavivirus and was finally named hepatitis C virus.[3] However, a final step was still necessary, the demonstration of the pathogenic role of HCV alone. This was achieved by Professor Rice and colleagues in 1997, which injected a genetically modified virus in the liver of chimpanzees which was able to cause hepatitis.[4]


Thousands of other scientists and clinicians have given their contribute to the understanding of hepatitis C, setting the scene of the revolution that occurred in 2011 with the availability of direct acting antiviral agents (DAAs). These molecules, targeting specific proteins involved in viral replication, allow to cure hepatitis C in the vast majority of patients, with short and well-tolerated therapeutic regimens. This astonishing result could not have been possible without the fundamental works of Alter, Houghton and Rice, highlighting once again the importance of deeply understanding basic sciences to achieve great clinical improvements.


Probably the hardest part of the road has been left behind: to ride the last mile, eliminate HCV from all over the world. This requires the identification of all those infected and the availability of DAAs at affordable costs also for low-income countries, where most of the infected are located. This is a crucial public health problem which has been received by the WHO’s Global Viral Hepatitis Strategy. Nonetheless, this task appears monumental without an effective vaccine towards the development of which the 2020 Nobel Laureates are still working hard.


As ESCMID, and particularly as ESGVH, we shall continue to strongly support all the initiatives directed toward a word free of HCV, to complete the extraordinary travel began by Alter, Houghton and Rice.



[1] The Nobel Assembly. The Nobel Assembly - Press release. Nobel Assem Karolinska Institutet 2018:1–5.

[2] Alter HJ, Holland P V., Purcell RH, Popper H. Transmissible Agent in Non-a, Non-B Hepatitis. Lancet 1978;311:459–63. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(78)90131-9.

[3] Choo QL, Kuo G, Weiner AJ, Overby LR, Bradley DW, Houghton M. Isolation of a cDNA clone derived from a blood-borne non-A, non-B viral hepatitis genome. Science (80- ) 1989;244:359–62. doi:10.1126/science.2523562.

[4] Kolykhalov AA, Agapov E V., Blight KJ, Mihalik K, Feinstone SM, Rice CM. Transmission of hepatitis C by intrahepatic inoculation with transcribed RNA. Science (80- ) 1997;277:570–4. doi:10.1126/science.277.5325.570.

An ESGVH survey

Management of HCV infection in patients with haematological malignancies

The ESGVH Executive Committee has endorsed a survey on the management of HCV infection in patients with haematological malignancies.  This survey aims to evaluate the willingness of DAAs prescribers to treat HCV infection during chemotherapy in patients with aggressive lymphoma, and report on the attitude of DAAs prescribers towards anticipating or delaying HCV treatment according to the presence of active haematological malignancies and transplant-related procedures. This survey might provide interesting data on the crucial issue of management of chronic HCV infection in this subset of immunocompromised patients.

To fill in the survey, please click on the following link until 19 January 2020. Feel free to share this link with your colleagues. Thank you.

ESCMID Postgraduate Education Course

Elimination of Viral Hepatitis: Are We Ready?

Co-organised by ESGVH, TAE and ESCMID

27 – 28 September 2019, Ljubljana, Slovenia

Viral hepatitis remains a global public health problem that represents a constant challenge for ID/CM specialists. In 2016 the first ever WHO global health sector strategy set goals to eliminate viral hepatitis as a public health threat by 2030. With highly effective HCV treatment and highly effective hepatitis B vaccine the goal seems achievable. However, there are several barriers to be overcome from the diagnostic, clinical, institutional as well as the patient sites. The goal of this course is to present the current epidemiological situation, clinical achievements and remaining issues of the five viruses, HBV and HCV in particular, the goals of WHO elimination strategy, the barriers to achieve elimination goals and some solutions to overcome the barriers in different resource settings. Additional benefit of the course is also in discussing the role of ID/CM specialists and their readiness towards the elimination of viral hepatitis.


Course material in the ESCMID eLibrary

New Executive Committee takes office

April 15, 2019

ESGVH has a new executive committee composed of:

  • Chairperson: Dr Andrea Lombardi, Italy
  • Treasurer: Berend Joost Van Welzen, Netherlands
  • Secretary: Boun Kim Tan, France

The new executive committee was elected at the annual meeting for a term of two years.

ESCMID Postgraduate Education Course

Workshop on Migrants’ Health

Co-organised by ESGCP, ESGVH, ESGEM, ESGMYC, the Ministry of Health of Oman, the ESCMID Task Force for Emerging Infections (EITaF), WHO EMRO, ECDC

8 – 10 March 2018 Muscat, Oman

Course Objectives: to highlight the initiatives for monitoring migrants’ health, prevent and control infectious diseases in migrants in GCC and EMRO; to discuss the impact of migrants on the health systems of the hosting countries especially for vaccine preventable diseases, importation of communicable diseases and AMR; to present the ways to enhance GCC / EMRO preparedness for infectious diseases in migrants during peace and conflict; to highlight the importance of intergovernmental and international organizations collaboration required to address migrants’ health needs in GCC / EMRO; to discuss the role and impact of migrants on the elimination programs for TB, malaria, HIV and hepatitis B and C viruses, and what strategies countries can follow to address the challenge; to discuss the ways on how countries can establish surveillance and integrated research for migrants’ health


Course material in the ESCMID eLibrary