An Atlantic County medical practice will sponsor a conference Thursday morning in Absecon on advances in the treatment of hepatitis C, a chronic inflammation of the liver.

And Dr. John Santoro of Atlantic Gas-troenterology Associates, in Egg Harbor Township, says he and other doctors speaking at the free conference at the Ram's Head Inn have some good news to deliver to professionals and patients.

"We've been treating patients with the next round of drugs and have had a great deal of success," said Santoro, director and researcher at AGA's Hepatitis Treat-ment Center, adding that some "have been cured of the virus for over a year."

Santoro is one of three main speakers at AGA's second annual Hepatitis Conference, formally called "New and Emerging Strategies to Simplify the Cure of Chronic HCV Infection" - meaning the hepatitis C virus. The others are Dr. Santiago Munoz, a medical professor at Temple University in Philadelphia and director of Temple Hospital's liver-transplant program; and Dr. Kenneth Roth-stein, the medical director of abdominal transplantation at Hahnemann Univer-sity Hospital, also in Philadelphia.

The conference is free and open to health professionals in all disciplines - who can get a continuing medical education credit by attending - and to patients or family members with an interest in the disease and its treatment. The morning will end with a question-and-answer period.

Contact Martin DeAngelis:

If you go

The Hepatitis Conference runs 8 to

11:30 a.m. Thursday at the Ram's Head Inn, 9 W. White Horse Pike, Galloway Township. Free. For more details, see