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Message from the Director General

Kazuhiko Koike
Director,
The Japan Society of Hepatology

 

 

 During the past half century, the Japan Society of Hepatology (JSH) has studied how the liver works, how liver disease occurs, and how liver disease can be cured, and has worked for developing treatments. As a result, it is now possible to cure many of the liver diseases that were incurable 50 years ago. In 2014, JSH held the 50th academic meeting in Tokyo, where we held the ceremony to celebrate the 50th anniversary of JSH in the presence of Their Imperial Highnesses Prince and Princess Akishino. We have just started a new half-century of liver research.

 

 Liver disease has been a national disease in Japan. When speaking of liver disease, the first thing that comes to the minds of people in general is likely excessive consumption of alcohol. It is not surprising that excessive drinking will cause problems in the liver. There are, however, other major causes that bring on liver disease, that is, hepatitis virus infection (hepatitis B, hepatitis C) and lifestyle diseases related to obesity.

 

 The treatment of hepatitis C has entered a new era since 2012. Specific molecular targeted drugs for the hepatitis C virus have been newly developed, and protease inhibitors and an NS5A inhibitor have been approved to be in the market. It is expected that SVR will be >95% in a few year in intractable hepatitis C patients infected with genotype 1 HCV. Furthermore, the treatment methods for hepatitis B have been improved as well. For the difficult-to-cure severe hepatitis B patients, it is now possible to stop the progress of the disease and alleviate the symptoms by controlling the amount of virus. However, the problem is the fact that there are still many who are not aware of their liver diseases in the cases of both hepatitis B and hepatitis C. We may say that it is one of our important missions to identify such patients to recommend them to receive antiviral therapy.

 

 Recently, it has been discovered that obesity-related lifestyle diseases are causing liver diseases, in particular, liver cirrhosis and cancer. The non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is attracting attention and it is essential to find out how the disease occurs and develop treatments. Moreover, there is a mountain of issues hepatologists should address, such as an increase in the cases of non-B, non-C hepatocellular carcinoma and the clarification of the relationship between diabetes and liver diseases. The JSH will further work on these issues, utilizing the abilities of young members in particular.

 

 The Japan Society of Hepatology was approved as a corporation in 1986. The Society has worked to promote the progress and spread of the research in hepatology and contributed to the development of science. It has been transformed to a general incorporated association from April 1, 2013. As already told, this Society marked its 50th anniversary in 2014. It has started anew under a new system at this memorable time. We are determined to continue working to make a greater contribution in a wider area for the further development of hepatology in Japan.

 

 We thank members and citizens for providing further cooperation and support.