Hepatology is the Service with the highest participation in clinical trials of liver diseases in Spain

The Hepatology Service is currently participating in 74 clinical trials, of which 50 are commercial.


The Liver Unit of University Hospital Vall d’Hebron (UHVH) aims to become a worldwide reference centre for liver diseases in terms of patient care, research, innovation and education. A 5-year analysis of clinical trials in liver diseases registered in the Registro Español de Ensayos Clínicos (REEC) reveals that the Liver Unit of HUVH is currently participating in 50 commercial or industry sponsored clinical trials out of a total of 74, representing a 68% of all commercial clinical trials in liver disease in Spain. With such a great participation rate, the Liver Unit of UHVH is the unit with the highest participation in clinical trials of liver diseases in Spain.

By phase, in 2021 5% of trials were in phase I, 47% phase II, 43% phase III and 5% phase IV. The number of patients included in these trials was 197, of whom 58 were recruited during the year.

This analysis also demonstrates that the greatest year in terms of clinical trial was 2021 with a dramatic increase of more than 200% compared to the previous year (figure 1). Due to the Covid-19 pandemic and its economic implications during 2020, the Liver Unit registered the lowest activity.

The Liver Unit has five main areas of clinical trial research, of which non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and advanced chronic liver disease (ACLD) and its complications (including cholestatic diseases, cirrhosis complications and alcohol-related diseases) are the ones that have experienced a significant increase in terms of new clinical trials during 2021 compared to 2020. The other two important areas of the Unit are viral hepatitis and liver transplantation.

The new clinical trials signed in 2021 represent 9.56% of the new clinical trials of the Vall d’Hebron Research Institute. The prominent implication of the Liver Unit in clinical trials is a clear indication of the commitment of its members to ensure that our patients have access to state-of the-art therapies, while at the same time, we contribute to cost savings and overhead generation in our institution. 

If anyone can take credit for what the Hepatology service is today, he is Dr Rafael Esteban Mur, head of the service until recently and professor of Medicine at the UAB, who had the vision of designing and consolidating a leading Hepatology service with notable international projection. Dr Esteban, very recently retired from our hospital, has a lot to do with this news and others related to the activity of the Hepatology service, for which all the members of the service are grateful to him.

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