For the first time researchers have succeeded in curing a chronic infection with the hepatitis B virus in a mouse model reports Meaww.
A research collaborative have reported that they have moved closer to a cure for chronic Hepatitis B infection. The team includes:
- Helmholtz Zentrum München
- Technical University of Munich
- University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf
- University Hospital Heidelberg
While thus far researchers haven’t been able to control the virus fully, this German-based research team demonstrated that T cell therapy can provide a permanent cure.
The Promise of T Cell Therapy
The German researchers reported “T cell therapy is a promising means to treat chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection and HBV-associated hepatocellular carcinoma (liver cancer),” stated in their paper published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation. The German team will probe deeper to understand the potential of T-cell therapy and subsequently conduct clinical trials along with their partners.
Hepatitis B: A Major Problem
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) an estimated 257 million people are living with hepatitis B virus infection. Hepatitis B resulted in 887,000 deaths in 2015 alone, mostly from complications, which includes liver cirrhosis and liver cancer. While vaccines can help prevent new hepatitis B infections, for people who are chronic carriers of the virus, a cure has not yet been found. Available drugs only prevent the virus from continuing to replicate in liver cells, but they cannot eliminate it. Severe complications can ensure.
Investigations were conducted using a complex “humanized” mouse model, which can be reconstituted with human liver cells, thus enabling the investigation of hepatitis b virus and the preclinical evaluation of antiviral drug candidates reports Dr. Karin Wisskirchen, first author of the study and scientist in the group of Ulrike Protzer, the new T cell therapy was specifically developed as an approach to fight hepatitis B virus infection and hepatitis B virus-associated liver cancer.
Dr. Wisskirchen noted “It is known that in chronically infected patients, virus-specific T cells either cannot be detected or they cannot demonstrate decreased activity. However, if patients can keep the virus under control by themselves, a strong T cell response becomes detectable. The obvious answer is, therefore, to use virus-specific T cells to make up for this deficit.”