Nav: Home

NIH grants MU $3 million to develop new hepatitis B treatments

October 04, 2016

Hepatitis B (HBV) is a viral infection that increases the likelihood of developing liver cancer or liver failure. According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 2 billion people currently are infected with HBV, which is more than 10 times the number of people who have human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Currently, treatment for hepatitis B infections is limited to one class of drugs that targets the virus. Stefan Sarafianos, an investigator with the University of Missouri Bond Life Sciences Center (BLSC) recently was awarded $3 million from the National Institutes of Health to study the disease. Building on existing research, he and his team will work on the development of new drugs to treat HBV.

"Hepatitis B truly is a global, public health issue," said Sarafianos, a professor of molecular microbiology and immunology and the Chancellor's Chair of Excellence in molecular virology in the University of Missouri School of Medicine. "With more than 240 million people chronically infected, it is an epidemic of epic proportions. We are working to develop therapeutic strategies that not only suppress the virus, but also have the potential to eradicate hepatitis B."

Since HIV and HBV share similar replication characteristics, proven HIV drugs called nucleoside analogs or "nucs," which target the replication abilities of HIV, also are the treatments of choice for HBV. Based on this knowledge, Sarafianos and his team are working to develop a second drug line that targets the viral capsid, or the building block of an inner protective shell that protects the viruses' genetic material. The capsid is involved in many aspects of the viral lifecycle and its stability is necessary for HBV.

"Research shows that viral DNA is housed inside the viral capsid," Sarafianos said. "We work on drugs that would destabilize the viral capsid and could help eradicate the virus. We truly are grateful to the NIH for their continuing support of our efforts."

"This significant funding from the NIH highlights the research excellence of the School of Medicine and its commitment to solving global health issues," said Patrick Delafontaine, Hugh E. and Sarah D. Stephenson dean of the School of Medicine. "This diverse team of scientists and students showcases the school's commitment to research and teaching the next generation of scientists. We're proud to be leading the effort and look forward to results that will benefit the world."

"The innovative culture at the Bond Life Sciences Center enables our investigators from across the campus, state, nation and the world to solve the health problems affecting global citizens," said Jack Schultz, director of the MU Bond Life Sciences Center. "The BLSC encourages the development of the research strengths of our scientists, undergraduate and graduate students. We're excited about this new research and its implications."

The multi-investigator project, "Taking aim at HBV eradication using novel NRTIs and Capsid effectors," (Grant #1R01AI121315-01A) will be led by Sarafianos and includes researchers from the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and the University of Pittsburgh.

University of Missouri-Columbia

Related Hiv Articles:

The Lancet HIV: Severe anti-LGBT legislations associated with lower testing and awareness of HIV in African countries
This first systematic review to investigate HIV testing, treatment and viral suppression in men who have sex with men in Africa finds that among the most recent studies (conducted after 2011) only half of men have been tested for HIV in the past 12 months.
The Lancet HIV: Tenfold increase in number of adolescents on HIV treatment in South Africa since 2010, but many still untreated
A new study of more than 700,000 one to 19-year olds being treated for HIV infection suggests a ten-fold increase in the number of adolescents aged 15 to 19 receiving HIV treatment in South Africa, according to results published in The Lancet HIV journal.
Starting HIV treatment in ERs may be key to ending HIV spread worldwide
In a follow-up study conducted in South Africa, Johns Hopkins Medicine researchers say they have evidence that hospital emergency departments (EDs) worldwide may be key strategic settings for curbing the spread of HIV infections in hard-to-reach populations if the EDs jump-start treatment and case management as well as diagnosis of the disease.
NIH HIV experts prioritize research to achieve sustained ART-free HIV remission
Achieving sustained remission of HIV without life-long antiretroviral therapy (ART) is a top HIV research priority, according to a new commentary in JAMA by experts at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health.
First ever living donor HIV-to-HIV kidney transplant
For the first time, a person living with HIV has donated a kidney to a transplant recipient also living with HIV.
The Lancet HIV: PrEP implementation is associated with a rapid decline in new HIV infections
Study from Australia is the first to evaluate a population-level roll-out of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) in men who have sex with men.
Researchers date 'hibernating' HIV strains, advancing BC's leadership in HIV cure research
Researchers have developed a novel way for dating 'hibernating' HIV strains, in an advancement for HIV cure research.
HIV RNA expression inhibitors may restore immune function in HIV-infected individuals
Immune activation and inflammation persist in the majority of treated HIV-infected individuals and is associated with excess risk of mortality and morbidity.
HIV vaccine elicits antibodies in animals that neutralize dozens of HIV strains
An experimental vaccine regimen based on the structure of a vulnerable site on HIV elicited antibodies in mice, guinea pigs and monkeys that neutralize dozens of HIV strains from around the world.
State-of-the-art HIV drug could curb HIV transmission, improve survival in India
An HIV treatment regimen already widely used in North America and Europe would likely increase the life expectancy of people living with HIV in India by nearly three years and reduce the number of new HIV infections by 23 percent with minimal impact on the country's HIV/AIDS budget.
More Hiv News and Hiv Current Events

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2019.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

In & Out Of Love
We think of love as a mysterious, unknowable force. Something that happens to us. But what if we could control it? This hour, TED speakers on whether we can decide to fall in — and out of — love. Guests include writer Mandy Len Catron, biological anthropologist Helen Fisher, musician Dessa, One Love CEO Katie Hood, and psychologist Guy Winch.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#543 Give a Nerd a Gift
Yup, you guessed it... it's Science for the People's annual holiday episode that helps you figure out what sciency books and gifts to get that special nerd on your list. Or maybe you're looking to build up your reading list for the holiday break and a geeky Christmas sweater to wear to an upcoming party. Returning are pop-science power-readers John Dupuis and Joanne Manaster to dish on the best science books they read this past year. And Rachelle Saunders and Bethany Brookshire squee in delight over some truly delightful science-themed non-book objects for those whose bookshelves are already full. Since...
Now Playing: Radiolab

An Announcement from Radiolab