The GIGA has been recently awarded with an European grant from the 4th call of the Infect-Era. The laboratory of Emmanuel Dejardin, together with research groups from France (Fabien Zoulim, CRCL, and François-Loïc Cosset, CIRI) and Germany (Mathias Heikenwalder, Heidelberg), is involved in a project called Target-HDV.
HDV (Hepatitis Delta Virus) super-infection of chronically HBV-infected patients is the most aggressive chronic form of viral hepatitis, with an accelerated progression towards fibrosis/cirrhosis and an increased risk of liver failure, hepatocellular carcinoma, and death. Around 15-20 millions of people are co-infected with HBV and HDV viruses, ranking this co-infection as one of the most prevalent and most clinically challenging worldwide.
HDV infection is not susceptible to available direct anti-HBV drugs (nucleoside analogs) and suboptimal responses are obtained with IFNα based therapy. Moreover, the number of investigational drugs against HDV infection remains limited; it is mainly due to the fact that (i) HDV does not encode an enzymatic activity, (ii) there are gaps in our knowledge of the HDV viral life cycle and its interaction with HBV, and (iii) until recently no appropriate in vitro model of co-infection to screen for molecules was available.
The goal of this project is to better understand how the NF-kB signaling pathways contribute to the anti-HDV response and to optimize the use of NF-kB inducers for a cure of HDV.