Recent Developments in HBV Diagnosis & Treatment

July 9, 2018  Source: News Medical 120

Hepatitis B virus (HBV) causes liver disease that leads to one million deaths throughout the world every year. Extensive research is going on to find the most effective, quick and accurate diagnostic measures followed by therapeutic solutions.

Common diagnostic methods such as reverse transcription-polymerase reaction and Southern blot test are too lengthy and labor intensive with very low precision. Recently several gene editing tools such as CRISPR (Clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats) /Cas9, ZFNs (Zinc finger nucleases) and TALENs (Transcription activator-like effector nucleases) have been developed to remove the specific disease from DNA sequences. By creating targeted gene edits, parental cell lines with targeted gene integration, modification or deletion can be made.

The available therapies against Hepatitis B infection, such as nucleoside analogs, cannot cure the infection and need lifelong disease management. At times, this disease causes resistance against the available antiviral drugs upon long-term administration. The occurrence of recalcitrant cccDNA causes relapses even after treatment.

In a similar way, the level of Hepatitis B cccDNA in the liver is very low, which in turn requires highly sensitive methods to measure its levels.

Gene therapy could stop HBV replication effectively where cccDNA can be disabled using gene-editing tools. Epigenetic gene slicing is another method to treat HBV infection. DNA becomes altered chemically without causing any change in the genetic code. Immunomodulators like interferon alpha (IFN-α) can be used for a functional cure of HBV infection, in spite of very low efficacy rates and side effects.

By Ddu