Over the last 40 years, the Collaborative Antiviral Study Group Central Unit has advanced the diagnosis and treatment of viral diseases through the design and implementation of innovative clinical trials. The original charge of the NIAID-sponsored CASG was to evaluate treatments of serious herpes virus infections, especially those caused by herpes simplex virus (HSV) and varicella-zoster virus (VZV). Realizing that these problems were best evaluated by a multi-center approach employing controlled clinical trials, the CASG was established to lead these studies in 1972. Through these efforts the standard of care for herpes simplex encephalitis, neonatal herpes simplex virus infections, congenital cytomegalovirus infection and varicella-zoster virus diseases has been established.
Through the years, the CASG has expanded from a small group of 20 sites in 1975 to include institutions throughout the United States as well as in Canada, the United Kingdom and Sweden. In addition, the CASG now conducts clinical trials on a wider range of viral infections including herpes simplex virus infections in pregnant women and their neonates, herpes simplex encephalitis, congenital cytomegalovirus infections, and BK virus infections in immunocompromised renal transplant patients.
Since its inception, the Central Unit for the CASG has been housed at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). The Central Unit provides medical, laboratory, biostatistical and administrative staff to coordinate research design and regulatory affairs related to conducting multi-center trials in a changing environment. UAB researcher and professor, Richard J. Whitley, MD has provided continuous leadership for the CASG and has served as Project Director since 1980. John W. Gnann, Jr., MD, oversees all adult studies conducted by the CASG, and David Kimberlin, MD, oversees all CASG pediatric studies.
The mission of the CASG is to:
- facilitate the evaluation of promising treatments of acute and chronic human viral diseases that are deemed medically and scientifically important by the Department of HHS/NIH/ National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases;
- facilitate advances in clinical antiviral therapy by rigorously evaluating the efficacy and safety of new therapeutic regimens for serious viral diseases in adult and pediatric immunocompromised and immune competent patient populations;
- develop and implement emergent infection research for disease identified by the NIAID as a threat to public health;
develop and apply contemporary diagnostic procedures to advance understanding of the natural history of diseases.