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The National Institute of Health has awarded University of North Carolina researcher Lishan Su, PhD, with a $2 million four-year R01 grant to investigate using a novel immune therapy to treat chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection.

There is currently no cure for the more than 350 million patients suffering from chronic hepatitis B infection. Su, a member of the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, will lead a cooperative effort between UNC and the University of Chicago to use mouse models developed with human immune and liver cells to determine if a combination of monoclonal antibodies and novel vaccines can cure HBV infection and create long-term immunity to the virus.

The hepatitis B virus’s ability to shield itself from the body’s immune system is key to its resistance to existing treatments. Researchers intend to use the humanized mouse model to build a better understanding of the way in which HBV infections develop into chronic infection, immune responses, fibrosis/cirrhosis and liver cancer.

Date: July 19, 2013