Scientists have developed a new strategy for treating hepatitis B infection.
This is a disease which affects several hundred million people worldwide. It can lead to chronic liver diseases such as cirrhosis and cancer.
Hepatitis B can be prevented through immunization. However, once an individual is infected with the virus, currently available therapeutics are of limited effectiveness.
| The team found an 85% reduction in HBsAg and a >99% reduction in HBcAg.|
In this study, researchers from the United States determined that virus progression in mice can be contained by inactivating virus-specific RNA in the liver using a piece of ribonucleic acid.
This research is the first time small interfering ribonucleic acid molecules (siRNAs) have been used to curb a viral infection in an animal.
Dr Mark Kay's team found that by injecting an siRNA that targets hepatitis virus into the tails of mice, they were able to disrupt hepatitis B virus replication and proliferation.
The siRNA molecules were designed to specifically bind to 2 hepatitis B virus RNAs in the liver cells, and ultimately interfere with hepatitis B virus replication.
The team's approach resulted in an 85% reduction in hepatitis B virus surface antigen (HBsAg) and a >99% reduction in the hepatitis B virus core antigen (HBcAg).
This method may hold promise as a therapeutic option, not only for hepatitis B, but also for other types of viral infections.