Newswise — BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – When treatment guidelines for a particular disease emerge, they are often published in a peer-reviewed medical journal, which can take up to three years. One University of Alabama at Birmingham infectious diseases expert recently helped develop new Hepatitis C virus (HCV) guidelines that can be updated and published as new data emerge and new therapies are approved.
HCV — which affects more than 3 million people in the United States and is the leading cause of cirrhosis and liver cancer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — last saw guidelines released in 2011.
Michael Saag, M.D., professor of medicine in the UAB School of Medicine, served as co-chair of a panel of more than two dozen liver and infectious diseases doctors that created HCVguidelines.org, a new online resource launched by the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases and the Infectious Diseases Society of America, in collaboration with the International Antiviral Society-USA.
“These guidelines synthesize all of the available information into very practical recommendations of what drugs are best to use for the different types of HCV presentations,” Saag said. “What’s unique about these guidelines is that they are in a living document that can change as new drugs are approved and if there are minor errors they can be amended immediately, so it has tremendous benefits to it on many levels.”
Saag says previous guidance was exclusively about using interferon-based treatments, which makes those outdated as new medications that have fewer side effects and less treatment time than interferon have been approved, and several more are coming in the next year.
“There’s this almost avalanche of new drugs coming our way — which is a great thing — but it presented a huge challenge to all of us to keep up with what drugs are best for which situation,” Saag explained. “It’s very rewarding to recognize this need, create a vision for what must be done, then with a group of colleagues, translate that vision into a tangible document that meets the criteria we set out to develop.”
About Michael Saag, M.D.A world-renowned expert in his field, Michael Saag, M.D., professor of medicine and director of the UAB Center for AIDS Research, performs clinical, translational and outcomes research in the areas of HIV and HCV. Saag, who came to UAB in 1984, made seminal discoveries in the genetic evolution of HIV in vivo and directed the first inpatient studies of seven of the first 25 antiretroviral drugs for HIV. Saag also conceived the concept of an HIV outpatient clinic dedicated to the provision of comprehensive patient care in conjunction with the conduct of high-quality clinical trials, basic science and clinical outcomes research. In March 2014, Saag will publish his first book, “POSITIVE,” which traces his life studying HIV and treating patients with AIDS. More than a memoir, “POSITIVE” also shines a light on what Saag describes as the dysfunctional U.S. healthcare system, proposing optimistic yet realistic remedies drawn from his distinguished career. For more information, visit http://www.uab.edu/medicine/cfar/outreach/positive-the-book.
About UABKnown for its innovative and interdisciplinary approach to education at both the graduate and undergraduate levels, the University of Alabama at Birmingham is an internationally renowned research university and academic medical center and the state of Alabama’s largest employer, with some 23,000 employees and an economic impact exceeding $5 billion annually on the state. The five pillars of UAB’s mission deliver knowledge that will change your world: the education of students, who are exposed to multidisciplinary learning and a new world of diversity; research, the creation of new knowledge; patient care, the outcome of ‘bench-to-bedside’ translational knowledge; service to the community at home and around the globe, from free clinics in local neighborhoods to the transformational experience of the arts; and the economic development of Birmingham and Alabama. Learn more at www.uab.edu.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The University of Alabama at Birmingham is a separate, independent institution from the University of Alabama, which is located in Tuscaloosa. Please use University of Alabama at Birmingham on first reference and UAB on all subsequent references.