Advances in the Use of RNAi to Treat Chronic Hepatitis B Virus Infection
Abdullah Ely and Patrick Arbuthnot
from: RNA Interference and Viruses: Current Innovations and Future Trends (Edited by: Miguel Angel Martínez). Caister Academic Press, U.K. (2010)
Chronic infection with the hepatitis B virus (HBV) occurs in approximately 6% of the world's population and carriers of the virus are at risk for complicating hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and cirrhosis. Although effective vaccination is available, it is prophylactic and of little use to individuals who are already infected with the virus. Furthermore, current treatment options have limited efficacy and chronic HBV infection is likely to be a significant global medical problem for many years to come. Silencing HBV gene expression by harnessing RNA interference (RNAi) presents an attractive option for development of novel and effective anti HBV agents. Numerous studies have reported highly successful suppression of viral replication, which bodes well for employing this approach to counter HBV infection. However, despite significant and rapid progress, further refinement of existing technologies is necessary before clinical application of RNAi-based HBV therapies is realised. Improvement of delivery efficiency, dose regulation, limiting of off target effects and preventing reactivation of viral replication are some of the hurdles that need to be overcome. Nevertheless, the vast potential of RNAi-based therapeutics will continue to drive innovative research, and this promises to surmount the obstacles that face this exciting field read more ...