Science Market Update

MU Receives $3M for Hepatitis B Treatment Research

Posted by Emily Olson on Mon, Oct 10, 2016

Dr. Stefan Sarafianos, a professor of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Missouri, was recently awarded a research grant of $3 million from the National Institutes of Health to develop new drugs to treat Hepatitis B (HBV).


HBV is a viral infection that attacks the liver and can cause both acute and chronic disease, according to the World Health Organization. Most people do not experience symptoms in the acute phase of the disease, but some infected persons can develop acute liver failure, and in other persons the virus can cause chronic infection of the liver, which can develop into liver cancer or cirrhosis.

The current treatment for HBV consists of just one class of drugs that supresses the disease, but there is no difinitive cure - yet. 

"We are working to develop therapeutic strategies that not only suppress the virus, but also have the potential to eradicate hepatitis B, ” said Sarafianos, recipient of the recent NIH award. "With more than 240 million people chronically infected, it is an epidemic of epic proportions."

Hepatitus B virions

(Hepatitus B virions. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons) 

The World Health Organization reports that the total number of infected people, according acute infections, is even higher, stating that "an estimated 2 billion people currently are infected with HBV, which is more than 10 times the number of people who have human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)." 

To develop a drug that can help eradicate HBV, Dr. Sarafianos and his research team are focusing on the viral capsid, a component of a protective shell that protects the viruses' genetic material. Because the capsid has a prominent role in protecting the genetic material, it is crucial to the viral lifecycle and the stability of the virus, which makes it an excellent target for drugs that can eradicate the virus. 

According to a report from the MU News Bureau, “This significant funding from the NIH highlights the research excellence of the School of Medicine and its commitment to solving global health issues,” said Patrick Delafontaine, Hugh E. and Sarah D. Stephenson dean of the School of Medicine. “This diverse team of scientists and students showcases the school’s commitment to research and teaching the next generation of scientists. We’re proud to be leading the effort and look forward to results that will benefit the world.”

Photo of the MU quad

(University of Missouri, Columbia campus. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

On Thursday, March 30th, 2017 Biotechnology Calendar, Inc. will host a BioResearch Product Faire™ event at the University of Missouri, Columbia. This is a great opportunity for laboratory equipment suppliers to market lab products to active life science researchers at this well funded research market. To learn more about participating in this trade fair event, visit the link below or call (530) 272-6675:

Exhibit at the  University of Missouri, Columbia

This event allows researchers to meet face to face with scientific supply companies, so that they can discuss their needs and see demonstations of newest products and technologies to further their work. If you are a researcher interested in attending this free event, visit the link below for more information and to pre-register.



Tags: Missouri, University of Missouri, Drug Development, MO, NIH award, Midwest Region, MU, Hepatitis B, University of Missouri, Columbia

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