Research Grant

[Cite as]

Researchers: A/Pr Allison Jilbert (Principal investigator)

Brief description Hepatitis B virus (HBV) causes acute and chronic infection leading to severe liver damage in many patients and increased risk of primary liver cancer. Worldwide ~350 million people have chronic HBV infection and, while a HBV vaccine is available that protects against new infections, current antiviral drug treatments for existing infection are largely ineffective. Thus, the aim of our project is to develop new treatments for chronic HBV infection using vaccination approaches. These therapies will be tested in ducks infected with the duck hepatitis B virus (DHBV), a model for human HBV infection. In brief, DHBV-infected ducks will be treated with a new antiviral drug, Entecavir (ETV) developed by Bristol-Myers Squibb, which blocks virus replication. To accelerate clearance of infected cells before drug-resistant viruses can emerge, the ducks will also be treated in combination with different novel therapeutic vaccines designed to induce strong humoral and cell mediated immune responses. Based on outcomes in initial experiments, we will adjust the vaccination protocol in ETV-treated ducks to maximize reductions in the levels of DHBV in liver and bloodstream, rates of death and clearance of DHBV-infected hepatocytes. Our ultimate goal is to define a protocol for combination antiviral and vaccination treatments that allows elimination of HBV infection, or that achieves a level of control of infection that eliminates ongoing disease by reducing virus loads to virtually undetectable levels.

Funding Amount $AUD 359,085.05

Funding Scheme NHMRC Project Grants

Notes Standard Project Grant

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