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The liver unit of the department of Gastroenterology & Hepatology integrates clinical and basic research. The various research groups within the unit conduct translational research aimed at acquiring a better understanding of disease pathogenesis in order to improve the therapeutic strategies to treat patients.
The 3 major topics of research are:

1) viral hepatitis caused by HBV, HCV or HEV
2) hepatocellular carcinoma
3) liver transplantation

Viral hepatitis
The department harbors the largest clinic for viral hepatitis in the Netherlands. Hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV) infect the liver, can cause chronic liver disease and may elicit progressive liver injury leading to increased risk of developing liver cirrhosis, liver failure and liver cancer. The research in our laboratory is aimed at understanding why the immune response to hepatitis viruses is insufficient to clear the virus in infected patients, at identification of immunological factors predicting the response to therapy and disease outcome, and at improving therapeutic strategies to treat chronically infected patients.
The research groups of
dr. A. Boonstra , dr. Q. Pan and dr. A. Woltman examine various aspects of viral hepatitis.

Hepatocellular carcinoma 
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), the main primary cancer of the liver, is the 3rd cause of cancer-related death worldwide. Curative treatment is currently not possible for the majority of HCC-patients. Selected patients with small tumours are treated by LTx, but the prognosis of these patients is still worse compared to LTx for other indications. We study intratumoral immunoregulatory mechanisms that constrain the immune response to liver cancer, in order to identify potential targets for therapeutic stimulation of local anti-tumor immunity. The research on hepatocellular carcinoma is performed by
dr. J. Kwekkeboom , dr. D. Sprengers , dr. A. Woltman and dr. Q. Pan
Liver transplantation
The research line on liver transplantation of focuses on immunological and virological aspects of liver transplantation (LTx), liver cancer and esophageal cancer. The research has a strongly translational character and aims to provide basic and applied knowledge to improve the outcome of liver transplantation. This research line is guided by
dr. J. Kwekkeboom and dr. L.J.W. van der Laan .