July 28, 2021

Special Edition

World Hepatitis Day

Hepatitis Can’t Wait is the theme of this year’s recognition of World Hepatitis Day, which is today, July 28. To promote this important world-wide health concern, the following special edition of the PharmDawg Script features scholarship, research, and service being conducted by two faculty members in the UGA College of Pharmacy – Dr. David Chu, Distinguished Research Professor Emeritus, and Dr. Brian Seagraves ’04, Clinical Academic Professional Associate in the CAP Department.  Appreciation is extended to Dr. Uma Singh, Research Assistant Professor in the Drug Discovery Group, who wrote the feature on Dr. Chu, as well as to Dr. Seagraves who prepared the article on the local Hepatitis C Clinic, along with his students (Morgan MoultonTierra Jackson, Brittany Brooks, Veli Uzunova, Amelia ClaryGelina Sani, and Victoria Redshaw), who shared their stories.

Dr. Chu Is Trailblazer in Hepatitis Drug Discovery
As a Distinguished Research Professor Emeritus in CoP’s Department of Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Sciences, Dr. C.-K. David Chu has established an internationally-recognized academic drug discovery program for antiviral research. Specifically, Dr. Chu’s lab has made remarkable contributions in the discovery of antiviral agents for the treatment of hepatitis. His group discovered Clevudine, an anti-hepatitis B virus (HBV) drug. Marketed under the trade names of Levovir and Revovir, it is being used to treat chronic hepatitis B infections in Asian countries and has saved the lives of millions of people. Currently, drug resistance is a significant concern for hepatitis patients who are being treated with FDA-approved drugs. Dr. Chu’s research group recently discovered FMCAP, a preclinical candidate for drug-resistant hepatitis B virus (HBV). This molecule has efficacy against the drug-resistant HBV, and preclinical studies of FMCAP are under trial. Due to his contribution to the treatment of hepatitis and other viral diseases, Dr. Chu has been honored by many prestigious international awards in antiviral drug discovery fields; John A. Montgomery Award (The International RoundTable Society), Antonin Holy Award (Society of International Antiviral Research). He is an elected Fellow of National Academy of Inventors & American Association of Advancement of Science. In addition, he is a recipient of the NIH Merit Award and Inventor of the Year Award of UGA. Dr. Chu has published more than 320 peer-reviewed research papers and received 65 U.S. patents. Kudos to Dr. Chu and his team!

Hepatitis Can’t Wait!

World Hepatitis Day takes place every year on July 28 and brings the world together under a single theme to raise awareness of the global burden of viral hepatitis as well as to influence real change. This year’s theme is Hepatitis Can’t Wait.

Hepatitis C is a viral infection of the liver. The hep C virus is transmitted via blood to blood only. Left unchecked, the hep C virus can scar the liver leading to cirrhosis, liver cancer, and death. The World Health Organization estimates that 71 million people worldwide are chronically infected with hepatitis C and that one person dies from hepatitis every 30 seconds. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that 2.4 million people in the U.S. are chronically infected.

Unfortunately, hep C is insidious in the early stages of the infection. Detection and treatment of those infected as well as educating the public are the keys to the eradication of this virus.

Early in his career, Dr. Brian Seagraves, CoP Clinical Academic Professional Associate, observed the impact of this disease in the Athens and surrounding communities. He also recognized how this disease seems to disproportionally affect the disenfranchised citizens of these communities. So, he set out to do something about it. He spent countless hours researching the hepatitis viruses (A-E), the pathophysiology of the diseases, and the therapies. He then established a hepatitis treatment clinic initially at Mercy Health Center and then later at the Athens Nurses’ Clinic.

From front to back: Dr. Morgan Moulton, PGY2; Dr. Brian Seagraves; and Paige Cummings, Executive Director of the Athens Nurses’ Clinic. Dr. Moulton is describing hepatocellular carcinoma using an anatomic model of the human liver.

In 2018, realizing that detection of hep C in the community was paramount, Dr. Seagraves focused his efforts on the Athens Nurses’ Clinic due to their community screenings and outreach that were already established. With help from the local Georgia Department of Public Health, Dr. Seagraves added hep C screening tests to the Nurses’ Clinics’ community outreach program. He also consulted with and aided free clinics inside and outside of the Athens community to establish their own hepatitis screening and treatment programs.

As an educator, Dr. Seagraves began taking pharmacy residents and pharmacy students to the clinic as a way of training the next generation of pharmacists in the detection and treatment of the hepatitis disease as well as to teach them how to be sensitive and all-inclusive with patients. The following highlights some of these residents’ and students’ experiences at the Athens Nurses’ Clinic’s Hepatitis Treatment program.

Read the full article and testimonies from residents and PharmD students here. 
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