Seeing the shape of hepatitis B’s action

2013

Challenge

The World Health Organization estimates that the hepatitis B virus has infected two billion people around the world, and about 600,000 people die every year due to consequences of infection Hepatitis B. A vaccine has existed since 1982, but there is no cure for already infected individuals, only complex and costly treatments.

Advance

IRP investigators led by Alasdair Steven, Ph.D., and Paul Wingfield, Ph.D., deciphered the atomic structure of the e-antigen protein, a key hepatitis B virus immune-regulator suspected in helping to establish chronic infection.

Impact

Revealing the complex structure of the e-antigen protein provides clues to how the hepatitis B virus eludes the immune system so successfully, which may lead to better treatments.

Publications

Dimattia MA, Watts NR, Stahl SJ, Grimes JM, Steven AC, Stuart DI, Wingfield PT. (2013). Antigenic switching of hepatitis B virus by alternative dimerization of the capsid protein. Structure. 21(1), 133–142.