October 02, 2016
1 min read

NIH awards researcher $3 million to develop new HBV treatments

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The NIH recently awarded a $3 million grant to Stefan G. Sarafianos, PhD, a researcher at the University of Missouri School of Medicine, to study hepatitis B virus infection and to develop new drugs for treatment, according to a press release.

“Hepatitis B truly is a global, public health issue,” Sarafianos, a professor of molecular microbiology and immunology and the Chancellor’s Chair of Excellence in molecular virology, said in the release. “With more than 240 million people chronically infected, it is an epidemic of epic proportions.”

In a multi-investigator project entitled “Taking aim at HBV eradication using novel NRTIs and Capsid effectors,” Sarafianos and colleagues will build on their existing research to develop a second drug line that targets the viral capsid, or the building block of an inner protective shell that guards the virus’ genetic material, according to the release.

Stefan G. Sarafianos, PhD

Stefan G. Sarafianos

“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.”

According to WHO, an estimated 2 billion people worldwide have HBV, which is more than 10 times the number of people with HIV. Currently, treatment for HBV is limited to one class of drugs that targets the virus, according to the release.

“We are working to develop therapeutic strategies that not only suppress the virus, but also have the potential to eradicate hepatitis B,” Sarafianos said.

Disclosure: Infectious Disease News was unable to confirm relevant financial disclosures at the time of publication.

Photo Credit: Roger Meissen, Bond Life Sciences Center.