A promising new avenue for treating hepatitis B has been reported by researchers at Hiroshima University who have developed a new animal model of the disease.
About two million people worldwide have been exposed to hepatitis B virus. Liver transplantation is often necessary to save the lives of patients who have severe liver damage that results from acute overreaction of the immune system. To develop therapies against acute hepatitis, an appropriate animal model is necessary. “The number of patients who can receive liver transplantation is limited, so there is an urgent need to develop new treatment options,” said Professor Kazuaki Chayama.
Professor Chayama and his research group used mice with “humanized” livers, and injected them with human blood. They found that hepatitis in these “human hepatocyte chimeric mice” was caused by white blood cells known as cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs) that were specifically targeted to hepatitis B virus. This was very similar to human acute hepatitis B.