Vaccines: A Biography

pp 301-315


Hepatitis B

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The discovery of hepatitis B virus (HBV) did not arise from a goal-directed search for this pathogen but from studies in basic science that were initially set on a different path. Much of the early research that resulted in the discovery of the virus, the invention of diagnostics, and the development of a vaccine was conducted at the Division of Clinical Research of Fox Chase Cancer Center (Blumberg et al. 1967). This chapter will focus on this early period and will also include a discussion of the worldwide use of the initial and subsequent vaccines that were associated with dramatic decreases in the incidence and prevalence of acute and chronic HBV infection, the HBV carrier state, and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), the latter marking HBV vaccine as the first one to prevent cancer. The nonpathological effects of chronic HBV infection, including a discussion of the relationship of genetic polymorphisms to susceptibility to chronic infection, and the relation of HBV infection to gender selection will conclude the chapter.