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T-cell responses play a central role in the natural history and pathogenesis of viral hepatitis and hepatocellular carcinoma. Indeed, while spontaneous clearance of hepatitis B and hepatitis C virus infection is associated with an early and vigorous virus specific CD4 and CD8 T-cell response, viral persistence is characterized by the presence of functionally impaired immune responses.
These immune responses, however, contribute to progression of liver cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma. Noteworthy, immune responses have also been suggested to play an important role in the immunobiology of hepatocellular carcinoma. This is based on the presence of high numbers of tumour infiltrating T cells in tumour tissue, the correlation between the density of lymphatic infiltrates in tumour lesions and prognosis and, probably most importantly, the finding that adoptive immune therapy may lower post-surgical recurrence rates in humans. In recent years, great progress has been made in the understanding of the immune biology and pathogenesis of hepatitis viruses and hepatocellular carcinoma.
However, thus far, this has not been successfully translated into efficient immunotherapies. Clearly, major challenges remain, both in terms of basic research as well as translational studies before novel immunotherapeutic approaches may enter the clinic. The purpose of this EASL Basic School of Hepatology is to review the recent achievements and challenges in viral hepatitis and hepatocellular carcinoma in a setting that fosters close interactions and discussions with international experts in this field.
After attending this EASL Basic School of Hepatology participants should better understand and be able to explain to their colleagues as well as implement in their own research activities the following:
Robert Thimme, David Adams