Viral Hepatitis

Chronic infection of the liver is a major global health problem, with an estimated 400 million individuals infected with hepatitis B, C or Delta viruses (HBV, HCV, HDV) at risk of progressive liver disease, liver cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma. Viral hepatitis is the major cause of hepatocellular carcinoma for which we have very limited therapeutic options rendering it the 2nd most frequent cause of cancer-related death. This is highlighting the need to increase our understanding of host pathways playing a role in virus control and in viral-associated carcinogenesis.

Hepatitis B is one of the world’s unconquered diseases, with approximately 4% of the world’s population suffering with chronic HBV infection (WHO March 2015). While a prophylactic vaccine exists, current antivirals control HBV but only eliminate the virus in 15% of treated subjects. In contrast, the recently available anti-viral agents for HCV can eliminate the virus in up to 90% of patients, but a vaccine is missing. For Delta virus, no specific treatment exists at all. Thus, new treatments are urgently needed. The high treatment costs for hepatitis C along with the risk for re-infection, highlight the need for continued research to develop new drugs and a hepatitis C vaccine. Our goal is to gain an improved understanding of the molecular pathways allowing virus persistence and involved in disease pathogenesis, and translate this molecular understanding into novel therapies.

In this Focus Group, Hans Fischer Senior Fellow Prof. Jane A. McKeating (University of Birmingham) collaborates with her TUM host Prof. Ulrike Protzer (Virology, TUM) as well as with Dr. Sabrina Schreiner and Prof. em. Michael Roggendorf, also from the Virology group at TUM.

TUM-IAS funded doctoral candidate:
Lisa Wolff, Virology