New therapy for hepatitis B combats virus and stimulates immune system
Scientists have developed a new treatment approach for chronic hepatitis-B infections that is set to improve the prospects of eliminating the infection and curing the disease.
With the aid of modified short RNAs, researchers participating in a collaborative venture between Helmholtz Zentrum München, the Technical University of Munich and the University of Bonn have succeeded in blocking hepatitis B virus replication while simultaneously stimulating an immune response. The study has been published in the renowned medical journal Gastroenterology.
The team, headed by Professor Ulrike Protzer, Director of the Institutes for Virology at the Helmholtz Zentrum München and the Technical University of Munich, worked together with Dr. Hendrik Poeck from the Klinikum rechts der Isar at the Technical University of Munich and Professor Gunther Hartmann from the University of Bonn to develop a new treatment option for chronic hepatitis B. The study, which was published in Gastroenterology, describes the use of specially modified siRNAs*. The designer RNA fragments inhibit replication of the hepatitis B virus in the body but they also have another function: they stimulate the innate immune system, enabling it to attack the virus more efficiently.
Our study shows that the combination of both functions– virus inhibition and immune stimulation – in one molecule is much more effective than a combination of the corresponding mono-functional nucleic acids,” says Professor Ulrike Protzer. “With this approach, we now – for the first time – have the prospect of being able to remove the hepatitis B virus completely from the body, even in the event of a chronic infection.”
If Hepatitis B is chronic, it can be controlled by common medications but it is rarely cured. With about 375 million chronic carriers worldwide, hepatitis B is one of the most important viral diseases of humans, setting them at high risk to develop liver failure or hepatic cancer. The objective of the Helmholtz Zentrum München is to understand the mechanisms that cause common diseases and to develop new approaches with regard to their diagnosis, therapy and prevention.http://bit.ly/pE7ang