Counterattack of the hepatitis B virus

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Science Daily.

The hepatitis B virus (HBV), which is up to 100 times more infectious than HIV, is primarily transmitted through blood or other bodily fluids. HBV infects liver cells and chronic infection can lead to serious health problems such as cirrhosis or liver cancer. According to the World Health organization, chronic hepatitis B affects nearly 240 million people worldwide, killing almost 800,000 people a year. Drugs are available to treat HBV, but they rarely cure the infection, and so the virus typically returns after the treatment ends. In a study published in Nature this week, an international team led by researchers from the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Geneva (UNIGE), Switzerland, discovered how our cells defend themselves against HBV infection, but also how the virus fights back. This work represents an important advance in our understanding of HBV and suggests new avenues for the development of innovative therapeutic agents.

A protective host protein destroyed by the virus X protein

Our cells produce a large number of defence proteins to protect us from viruses. These so-called “restriction factors” are a first line of defence against viral infections, and constitute an important component of the innate immune response. However, little is…

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