Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Hepatitis B Virus Triggers Cell 'Suicide' In Patients With Chronic Infection

Date:
April 9, 2008
Source:
University College London
Summary:
Scientists have identified a key difference between people who can fight the Hepatitis B virus (HBV) off successfully and those who fail to do so -- that a group of cells important in controlling the disease are triggered to "commit suicide" in patients who are chronically infected. This discovery provides an important new focus for developing therapies or vaccines that boost the body's ability to manage this infection.

Scientists from UCL (University College London) have identified a key difference between people who can fight the Hepatitis B virus (HBV) off successfully and those who fail to do so -- that a group of cells important in controlling the disease are triggered to 'commit suicide' in patients who are chronically infected. This discovery provides an important new focus for developing therapies or vaccines that boost the body's ability to manage this infection.

Related Articles


The researchers analysed thousands of genes in T cells, critical players of the immune system required for control of HBV. They found that T cells from patients who were chronically infected were triggered to 'commit suicide'. This could be an important factor in determining why these patients' immune systems cannot fight the infection, and a process which could be a useful target for new treatments. Their findings are published today in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

Hepatitis B virus (HBV) is one of the most common viruses in the world, and ranks as one of the top ten killer infectious diseases. More than 350 million people have long-term infection with HBV, which may lead to liver cirrhosis, liver failure or liver cancer. In the majority of adults infected, the immune system is able to control the virus very well and is, in fact, more effective than any currently available treatment. Understanding what goes wrong in people with chronic infection is crucial to the development of new therapies.

Lead author, Dr Mala Maini, UCL Division of Infection & Immunity, said: "We used microarray gene chips to screen more than 5,000 genes in T cells from both recovered and chronically infected Hepatitis B patients. This led to the discovery that, instead of successfully reacting to the virus, the T cells in the latter group were triggered to commit suicide by one of the cells' own death-inducing proteins, called 'Bim'. We are now looking into the fine mechanism driving this outcome."

The paper's first author, Ross Lopes, added: "If we can develop safe ways of blocking the suicidal tendency of the T cells, we may be able to prolong their survival, so they can do a better job of controlling Hepatitis B infection."

The proportion of the world's population currently infected with HBV is estimated at between 3 and 6 per cent, but up to a third have been exposed. It is endemic in parts of Asia and Africa. Chronic Hepatitis B may eventually cause liver cirrhosis and liver cancer, a fatal disease with very poor response to current treatments. The infection is preventable by vaccination at a young age.

The paper's authors are from UCL Division of Infection and Immunity, UCL Centre for Sexual Health and HIV Research, Camden Primary Care Trust and the Singapore Institute for Clinical Sciences. Some of the authors receive funding from the Medical Research Council.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University College London. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Bim-mediated deletion of antigen-specific CD8 T cells in patients unable to control hepatitis B virus. Journal of Clinical Investigation, 8th April 2008

Cite This Page:

University College London. "Hepatitis B Virus Triggers Cell 'Suicide' In Patients With Chronic Infection." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 April 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080408175224.htm>.
University College London. (2008, April 9). Hepatitis B Virus Triggers Cell 'Suicide' In Patients With Chronic Infection. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080408175224.htm
University College London. "Hepatitis B Virus Triggers Cell 'Suicide' In Patients With Chronic Infection." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080408175224.htm (accessed October 31, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Friday, October 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

U.S. Ebola Response Measures Demonstrated

U.S. Ebola Response Measures Demonstrated

AP (Oct. 31, 2014) Officials in the Washington area showed off Ebola response measures being taken at Dulles International Airport and the National Institutes of Health. (Oct. 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Fauci Says Ebola Risk in US "essentially Zero"

Fauci Says Ebola Risk in US "essentially Zero"

AP (Oct. 30, 2014) NIAID Director Anthony Fauci said the risk of Ebola becoming an epidemic in the U.S. is essentially zero Thursday at the Washington Ideas Forum. He also said an Ebola vaccine will be tested in West Africa in the next few months. (Oct. 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Nurse Defies Ebola Quarantine With Bike Ride

Nurse Defies Ebola Quarantine With Bike Ride

AP (Oct. 30, 2014) A nurse who vowed to defy Maine's voluntary quarantine for health care workers who treated Ebola patients followed through on her promise Thursday, leaving her home for an hour-long bike ride. (Oct. 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Pot-Infused Edibles Raise Concerns in Colorado

Pot-Infused Edibles Raise Concerns in Colorado

AFP (Oct. 30, 2014) Colorado may have legalized marijuana for recreational use, but the debate around the decision still continues, with a recent - failed - attempt to ban cannabis-infused edibles. Duration: 01:53 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins