Dr. Ming-Lung Yu, Dean of the College of Medicine and Senior Vice President at NSYSU received the 2023 TASL Special Contribution Award
(Provided by College of Medicine and Office of Senior Vice President) Ming-Lung Yu, Dean of the College of Medicine and Senior Vice President at National Sun Yat-sen University (NSYSU) was awarded the 2023 Special Contribution Award by the Taiwan Association for the Study of the Liver (TASL) in recognition of his outstanding research in liver medicine and his contribution to the health of people in Taiwan. The ERASE-C Hemodialysis Hepatitis C virus (HCV) micro-elimination project planned and promoted by Dr. Ming-Lung Yu is the world's first HCV micro-elimination research that utilizes outreach diagnosis and on-site treatment for specific groups. The impressive achievements were published in the world's top medical journal "Gut." This is also the world's first paper related to hepatitis C elimination on hemodialysis. This study also established a successful pattern for subsequent hepatitis C micro-elimination in hemodialysis patients to follow, helping Taiwan and the World Health Organization (WHO) to achieve the ultimate goal of hepatitis C elimination.
Liver diseases are rampant in Taiwan, not only where hepatitis B but also hepatitis C is highly prevalent. Dr. Ming-Lung Yu and his research team found that hepatitis C is highly prevalent in many towns and villages in Taiwan during the past 20 years of field research. The positive rate of hepatitis C antibody (anti-HCV) is as high as 30% to 67%. According to Professor Yu's estimation, the gender and age adjustment prevalence rate of hepatitis C in Taiwan is 3.28%. Approximately 740,000 people have been infected with the hepatitis C, and about 500,000 of them progress to chronic hepatitis C. Therefore, the prevention and treatment of hepatitis C in Taiwan is urgent and has particularity and importance in research and medical field.
Dr. Ming-Lung Yu is committed to the prevention and treatment of hepatitis, hoping to help Taiwan get rid of the liver disease as a nationwide disease as soon as possible. He is a recognized expert in hepatitis C research. Dr. Yu utilized viral kinetics to establish the algorithm of personalized hepatitis C treatment. Moreover, he integrated the host genome and viral kinetics to develop an accurate treatment strategy more precisely. Recently, through the integration of pharmacoeconomics and outreach screening, the on-site treatment team model, and a new generation of hepatitis C treatment agents, the "hepatitis C micro-elimination project" strategy has been developed, helping Taiwan move towards the goal of hepatitis C elimination by 2025. In particular, the series of "Research on Promoting the Treatment Effectiveness of Chronic Hepatitis C," "Translational Medicine Research on Individualized Treatment of Hepatitis C," and "Precision Medicine Research on Resource-Guided Treatment of Hepatitis C" have achieved significant results.
Dr. Ming-Lung Yu said that a knowledgeable physician-scientist should have practical leadership and management capabilities in medical administration. For a clinician, discovering clinical problems and patients' expectations using various methods to verify and answer them is the only way to improve the patient's health. "This is my believed duty and mission," said Dr. Yu.
The WHO has set a goal of hepatitis elimination by 2030. In response to this policy, the Taiwan National Hepatitis C Program Office (TWNHCP) has been established, hoping to reach the goal early by 2025. The effective treatment strategies of hepatitis C micro-elimination have been developed for varied high-risk infectious groups, such as hemodialysis patients, substance abuse treatment patients, and prisoners. The hemodialysis population is a suitable target for developing hepatitis C micro-elimination strategies due to factors such as a closed environment, high prevalence, and high infection rate of hepatitis C. Dr. Ming-Lung Yu led a team to discuss this issue and work with 18 hemodialysis centers in Tainan, Kaohsiung, and Pingtung. First, a large-scale hepatitis C prevalence investigation was conducted among 2,323 hemodialysis patients in 2019, and it was found that 7.7% of them were still continuously infected with the hepatitis C virus.
To resolve the above problems, Dr. Ming-Lung Yu immediately planned and promoted the "ERASE-C Hemodialysis HCV micro-elimination" project. He compared the effectiveness and feasibility of both "referral treatment" and "on-site treatment" strategies and found that only 26.3% of hepatitis C patients on hemodialysis are willing to accept referral treatment. However, if the pangenotypic directly-acting antiviral regimen, sofosbuvir and velpatasvir treatment course is provided through "on-site treatment" to increase the treatment accessibility for hemodialysis patients and overcome the obstacles of inconvenient medical treatment and low willingness for treatment among hemodialysis patients, it can further increase the cure rate to 93.6%. This comprehensive outreach screening and on-site group treatment strategy can successfully cure all medical personnel with hepatitis C and 90.4% of hepatitis C patients on hemodialysis and reduce the prevalence rate of hepatitis C on hemodialysis from 7.7% before treatment to 0.9%. The drop is as high as 90%. Among them, 92.3% of the hemodialysis centers have achieved "HCV micro-elimination," and seven hemodialysis centers have successfully eliminated all hepatitis C viruses, achieving the goal of "No-C hemodialysis" to ensure avoiding the risk of hepatitis C infection during hemodialysis in the future.
Observing the medical problems caused by the hepatitis C virus, Dr. Ming-Lung Yu frequently participates in the Liver Society academic meetings in the Asia-Pacific areas, Europe, and America. He also converted his accumulated academic achievements to strategic medical policies, including different aspects such as fundamental research, prevention, diagnosis, and clinical treatment. Dr. Yu discovered different strategies to treat and eliminate hepatitis C, making significant contributions to public health in Taiwan. Moreover, to implement nationwide cooperation between hospitals, he organized The Taiwanese Chronic Hepatitis C Cohort (T-COACH) and The Taiwan Association for the Study of the Liver HCV Registry Program (TACR), making substantial contributions to the global medical technology development, public health conditions and society in Taiwan. Dr. Yu’s academic status has been internationally recognized. He was the key member conducting the 2012, 2016, and 2018 Chronic hepatitis C guidelines for the Asian Pacific Association for the Study of the Liver (APASL). He was also the leading member conducting the 2020 Taiwan Chronic Hepatitis C Policy Guideline. By working with the Taiwan government, the objective of hepatitis C elimination by 2025 is expected to be accomplished five years ahead of WHO’s schedule. Dr. Yu looks forward to reproducing Taiwan's outstanding contributions in the field of hepatitis to the world and providing a model for the WHO.
The patented medical techniques and methodologies developed by Dr. Ming-Lung Yu include the Method and Kit for predicting therapeutic effect of interferon therapy (patent No. I454577), The use of let-7g to down regulate ns5b gene, core protein and load of hepatitis c virus (patent No. I537392), Use of Let-7g to down regulate NS5B gene, core protein and viral load of hepatitis C virus (patent No. US 9,738,942 B2), Method of detecting carbohydrate metabolism disorder and the prevention and treatment (patent No. I620933), Method for predicting treatment efficacy of peginterferon plus ribavirin treatment in a subject suffering from hepatitis c (patent No. I623620) and A prophylactic and therapeutic method for detecting the saccharometabolism abnormality (patent No. JP, 7066209, B), and Method for detecting whether glucose metabolism is abnormal, and prevention and treatment therefor (patent No. US 11,439,689 B2). Dr. Yu’s contributions to biopharmaceutical development and hepatitis C treatment were recognized for the accomplished medical care system established by Dr. Yu, which includes screening, diagnosis, and treatment. The system successfully ensured the medical service quality for hepatitis C patients.