Robert Purcell (NIAID)
Suzanne Emerson (NIAID)
Preclinical data are available at this time.
Hepatitis E virus (HEV) is the cause of Hepatitis E, a liver disease that occurs primarily in developing countries due to fecal contaminated drinking water. Outbreaks of HEV infection have caused epidemics in Africa, Central and Southeast Asia and Mexico and cases of the disease have also been reported sporadically in more developed countries. Hepatitis E is most often overcome by a host’s natural defenses; however the disease is more severe in pregnant women, who exhibit a 20% mortality rate due to HEV infection. Presently, no vaccines or therapeutic agents, which prevent or treat HEV infection, are commercially provided.
An isolated strain of swine HEV is currently available for licensing and commercial development. The nucleotide and amino acid sequences of the available virus are significantly homologous to human HEV and antibodies induced by the agent were shown to cross react with a human HEV antigen. The present technology provides a mechanism for augmenting the immune response against HEV in infected individuals and is thus useful for the development of novel vaccines and therapeutics for prevention and treatment of HEV infection in humans. In addition, the available viral strain may be used to develop diagnostic tools for efficient detection of HEV contamination of food and water in developing countries, especially in regions of Africa, Asia and Mexico, where HEV is endemic.
- Development of diagnostic tools for identification and detection of HEV infection
- HEV vaccination in developing countries, where individuals are at higher risk for infection
- Research and development of anti-HEV therapeutics agents