Nucleic acid-based antiviral and gene therapy of chronic hepatitis B infection

J. R. Wands, M. Geissler, J. Z U Putlitz, H. Blum, F. Von Weizsäcker, L. Mohr, S. K. Yoon, M. Melegari, P. P. Scaglioni

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31 Scopus citations


Persistent hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection often leads to the development of chronic hepatitis, cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma. There is a need to develop new antiviral approaches for the treatment of this disease. We have explored various nucleic acid-based strategies designed to inhibit HBV replication including: the use of antisense RNA and DNA constructs, DNA-based immunization techniques to stimulate broad-based cellular immune responses with particular emphasis on the generation of cytotoxic lymphocyte (CTL) activity to vital structural proteins, hammerhead ribozymes to cleave HBV pregenomic RNA in vitro and dominant negative HBV core mutant proteins as inhibitors of nucleocapsid formation within cells. In order to optimize these antiviral effects, various novel expression vectors have been developed to deliver such DNA constructs to cells. For example, adenoviral vectors carrying genes that encode for dominant negative proteins have been employed to transfect hepatocytes in vitro and in vivo. In addition, plasmid vectors have been produced to promote expression of HBV structural genes following injection into muscle cells as a means to stimulate the host's cellular and humoral immune response in the context of histocompatibility antigen (HLA) class I and II antigen presentation. These experimental approaches may have important implications for the generation of efficient antiviral effects during chronic HBV infection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S354-S369
JournalJournal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology (Australia)
Issue number9-10
StatePublished - 1997


  • Antisense RNA and DNA
  • Gene therapy
  • Vital hepatitis B

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hepatology
  • Gastroenterology


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