Hepatitis B Virus (HBV) Research
Click here, to watch an informative video on HBV research led by Dr. Coffin.
Despite an effective vaccine, hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection is a global disease that kills more than 780,000 people per year. Although there has been much progress in North America in HBV therapeutics, the choices worldwide are limited due to risk of HBV resistance, cost, and variability in disease outcomes. However, even the most potent antiviral drugs available cannot eradicate the virus and requires special consideration in pregnant and immunosuppressed patients. Due to shared modes of transmission, HBV co-infection with the hepatitis C virus (HCV) and the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is common and virus-virus interactions add yet additional layers of disease complexity.
Laboratory work is focused on:
- Understanding the molecular nature of HBV persistence.
- Delineating the clinical and oncogenic consequences of infection with specific HBV variants.
- Defining the nature of HBV persistence in sanctuary sites, such as immune cells, and its clinical consequences.
To facilitate these studies, our lab has developed a chronic hepatitis B patient database. Serial patient biological samples of serum, circulating immune cells and liver biopsies are collected longitudinally along with comprehensive virological, clinical and demographic data. Along with the in-depth molecular virological analysis of the HBV in patient samples, we have developed expertise with relevant HBV infectious culture systems for HBV propagation in vitro. We have also established networks of collaborations both nationally, and internationally, enabling validation of our clinical studies in large hepatitis B patient cohorts.
The ultimate goal of this research program is to understand mechanisms of HBV persistence leading to chronic hepatitis B, as well as “occult hepatitis B”, and to refine treatment strategies, especially in special patient populations (i.e., pregnancy and co-infection).
Primary investigator: Dr. Carla Coffin
To view publications by Dr. Coffin, click here.