Hepatitis B drugs from grass pollen allergy vaccine
Chronic infections are a global health problem that no hepatitis B drugs have previously been able to treat. A research team led by Rudolf Valenta from the Center for Pathophysiology, Infectious Diseases and Immunology at the Medical University of Vienna has now shown that a protein contained in the BM32 vaccine against grass pollen allergy induces antibodies that prevent hepatitis B viruses from docking on liver cells.
Potential hepatitis B drugs under development
Chronic hepatitis B (HBV) is a serious viral disease that is associated with inflammation of the liver. According to estimates by the World Health Organization (WHO), there are currently more than 250 million people affected worldwide. HBV is usually treated with analogs of nucleoside and nucleotide or with interferon. However, these forms of treatment have many side effects. Current vaccinations for protection against HBV are based on the S protein. This is a specific component of the virus, but such hepatitis B drugs are ineffective 10-20% of the time.
Using data from 128 people vaccinated against grass pollen allergy, the Viennese researchers have now shown that this BM32 vaccine induces antibodies exactly at the point where the virus binds to the liver cell. This allows the body to prevent infection. To this end, the team tested various dosing schemes and examined various cross-reactions. In this way, the vaccinated people formed antibodies that can recognize and fight all known forms of the virus. So the antibody count seems to be high enough to prevent the chronic form of hepatitis B. In addition, this immune response can also serve as a treatment. It would then be possible to interrupt the cycle of virus attack on the liver cells and achieve immunization.
The BM32 vaccine is based on an innovative recombinant peptide carrier technology. Compared to other immunotherapies for allergy sufferers, this desensitization requires far fewer injections and has fewer side effects. The recombinant peptide carrier technology was developed at the Christian Doppler Laboratory for Allergy Research at the University of Vienna under the direction of Rudolf Valenta. The team developed BM32 together with its trading partner Biomay AG. However, this study is a first step towards the therapeutic use of vaccination against chronic hepatitis. It also represents a completely new concept that could revolutionize current treatments.
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