HDV Translational Science
Hepatitis Delta virus (HDV) does not receive a lot of attention and there is much we still do not understand. HDV is referred to as a “satellite” virus because it is only infectious in the presence of the hepatitis B virus (HBV). This can occur in two ways: coinfection with both HDV and HBV at the same time or the HDV superinfection of an already HBV-infected individual. It is not known why HDV superinfection (compared to co-infection) leads to a higher risk of chronic HDV infection and hepatitis. There is no vaccine for HDV, but it can be theoretically controlled as a result of the success of global HBV vaccinations. In the US, there is an alarming trend in the rise of HDV cases. Hepatitis D remains a serious challenge for three reasons. First, there is no FDA approved therapy, and the current treatment with interferon-alpha has a very low success rate (<25%). It is the most aggressive form of viral hepatitis and results in accelerated liver-related deaths and hepatocellular carcinoma (a common form of liver cancer). Lastly, there are limited cell-culture and animal models to study the virus in order to test new antivirals. Dahari Lab works across disciplines with computational modelers, virologists, clinicians, mouse-model experts and pharmaceutical companies on advancements in treatment. Our focus is on the discovery of HDV treatment response dynamics, the optimization of HDV therapy, and the evaluation of anti-HDV mode of actions of new drugs. These areas are critical to success in early development as well as clinical trials.