Experimental models and therapeutic approaches for HBV
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- Dandri, M., Lütgehetmann, M. & Petersen, J. Semin Immunopathol (2013) 35: 7. doi:10.1007/s00281-012-0335-7
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Liver disease associated to persistent infection with the hepatitis B virus (HBV) continues to be a major health problem of global impact. In spite of the existence of an effective vaccine, approximately 360 million people are chronically infected worldwide, who are at high risk of developing liver cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma. Although current therapeutic regimens can efficiently suppress viral replication, the unique replication strategies employed by HBV permit the virus to persist within the infected hepatocytes. As a consequence, relapse of viral activity is commonly observed after cessation of treatment with polymerase inhibitors. The narrow host range of HBV has hindered progresses in understanding specific steps of HBV replication and the development of more effective therapeutic strategies aiming at achieving sustained viral control and, eventually, virus eradication. This review will focus on summarizing recent advances obtained with well-established and more innovative experimental models, giving emphasis on the strength of the different systems as tools for elucidating distinct aspects of HBV persistence and for the development of new therapeutic approaches.