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Emily Spurlin, a second-year medical student at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine, was a co-author in a research article published in the international medical journal The Lancet. Spurlin, along with other researchers, published findings from a research project funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease investigating the effects of novel hepatitis C virus treatment regimens.
The hepatitis C virus, more commonly known as HCV, is a transmittable liver disease that ranges from a mild illness lasting only a few weeks to a more serious, lifelong illness that attacks the liver. The HCV infection is able to spread primarily through contact with the blood of an infected person.
“I was drawn to this research after a college course on virology spiked my interest in these viruses,” Spurlin said. “I found it fascinating this virus - which is essentially just big bags of genetic material - is able to have such a profound impact on the human body.”
The medications used in the research project act directly against HCV to kill the virus in contrast to current HCV treatments, which act to increase patients’ immune response. The results of the study were very promising and showed high cure rates for HCV infection and high tolerability by the study’s participants.
The new treatment regimens tested in the trial have the potential to greatly impact patients with HCV. These treatments have less potent side effects and have a shorter duration of treatment than traditional medications for HCV, making the treatments a more realistic option for most patients.
“I think it is important for medical students to be involved in research,” she said. “The medicine we will practice in our careers is based on peer-reviewed medical research, and understanding this process will give students a greater knowledge and appreciation of evidence-based medicine.”
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