Identifying new drugs to cure hepatitis B and E virus infection

Written by
Catherine Zandonella, Office of the Dean for Research
Dec. 31, 2019

A new approach for discovering antivirals against hepatitis B and E viruses aims to identify new drug candidates for these life-threatening diseases.

Building on his lab’s expertise in human liver pathogens, Alexander Ploss, associate professor of molecular biology, and his team have pioneered new screening platforms and new methods to evaluate therapeutic candidates, as explained in the video above.

Hepatitis B virus affects over 250 million people worldwide, damages the liver and can cause liver cancer. Hepatitis E virus can cause liver failure in immunocompromised individuals and be life-threatening during pregnancy. Most of the world’s 20 million cases occur in developing countries.

Ploss and his team have developed a new high-throughput screen to identify small molecules capable of interfering with the life cycle of hepatitis B virus. For hepatitis E virus, Ploss and his team have developed a system for culturing the virus in human liver cells in the lab. They use these methods to identify new strategies to attack the virus and rapidly screen for potential treatments.

Ploss’s research has been featured through Celebrate Princeton Innovation (CPI), an annual event that highlights the work of faculty and student researchers who are making discoveries and creating inventions with the potential for having broad societal impact. The gathering attracts members of the broader entrepreneurial ecosystem outside the University — such as members of the venture capital community, industry, as well as representatives from state and local governments — who come to learn about the newest University discoveries and meet the faculty and staff engaged in Princeton’s innovation initiative.

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