Chronic Hepatitis B Infection: How Can the Rockefeller Lab’s Study Open Up New Opportunities in the Industry?

18 Apr



  • Introduction
  • Rockefeller Lab’s study on chronic Hepatitis B infection
  • Factors influencing the growth of the domain in North America

Hepatitis B is a viral infection that primarily affects the liver. The Hepatitis B virus is transmitted most commonly during childbirth, from mother to child. However, in some cases, the virus can also be transmitted through contact or bodily fluids. Medical practitioners generally classify Hepatitis B into two types- acute and chronic. When a person gets infected with the Hepatitis B virus for the first time and gets cured of the infection within six months, it is called an acute Hepatitis B infection. However, when a person gets infected with the virus and is unable to get rid of the virus for more than 6 months, the infection is classified as a chronic infection. According to WHO estimates, in 2022, around 254 million people across the globe were diagnosed with chronic Hepatitis B infection, while 1.1 million died due to this medical condition.

Analyzing Rockefeller Lab’s new tool to cure chronic Hepatitis B

Chronic hepatitis B is a completely vaccine-preventable disease. Medical studies have shown that the chance of contracting this medical condition is high in infants and goes down as the child grows older. Around 30% of the children who get infected from the Hepatitis B virus before the age of six go on to develop a chronic condition in their lifetime. On the other hand, most of the children who get diagnosed with the virus after the age of six do not develop a chronic condition. Thus, preventing the disease is easily possible by getting the child vaccinated regularly.

However, curing chronic Hepatitis B is a rather complex and difficult job. 2020 Nobel Laureate for Physiology and Medicine, Charles Rice studied the physiological characteristics and behavioral patterns of the Hepatitis C virus, for which he won the Nobel Prize. According to him, though both Hepatitis B and C viruses attack the liver, they are fundamentally different from each other. Hepatitis C is an RNA virus, while Hepatitis B is a DNA virus; also, the size of the Hepatitis B virus (HBV) is around 1/3 of the Hepatitis C virus (HCV) which makes it even harder to study. Furthermore, the background noise from the plasmids and DNA of HBV makes it unclear for researchers to trace the behavior of the virus.

Charles Rice, to get around this background noise created by HBV DNA, has proposed a novel procedure. The Hepatitis B virus, when it attacks a cell, transcribes the host DNA to RNA like most other viruses. However, after this process, it converts the RNA into a unique genome called covalently closed circular DNA (cccDNA). This process of converting RNA to cccDNA is a unique property of HBV, and it is this genome (cccDNA) that creates the background noise. Charles Rice has proposed segregating the virus from the host and starting its life cycle before it converts RNA to cccDNA so that its entire unique behavioral pattern can be studied in detail. This novel approach is now being considered a possible breakthrough in devising a cure for chronic Hepatitis B.

Studying the reasons behind the growth of the industry in the North American region

The chronic Hepatitis B industry is expected to have the largest market share in the North American region in the coming period. The rising incidence of Hepatitis B infection among the people in this region is the major reason behind this growth. Furthermore, the massive upgradation in healthcare infrastructure in various countries of this region, especially in the US, has also played a big role in the sector’s growth.

Along with this, the R&D activities undertaken by private companies and universities to develop a full-proof cure for chronic Hepatitis B infection are also expected to help the market flourish in this region. However, at the same time, the industry is also witnessing a major boost in the Asia-Pacific region due to the growing incidence of the disease and rising healthcare infrastructure investments.

To sum it up, chronic Hepatitis B infections have increased in the past few years, despite it being a vaccine-preventable disease. Medical researchers like Charles Rice are engaged in R&D activities to develop a cure for this chronic medical condition. The increasing investments in such research-related activities will go a long way in developing a cure for this disease.

For a comprehensive study on the different growth drivers and investment opportunities in the industry, feel free to contact us.

Akhilesh Prabhugaonkar

Akhilesh Prabhugaonkar

Author's Bio- Akhilesh Prabhugaonkar holds a bachelor’s degree in Electronics Engineering from the reputed Vishwakarma Institute of Technology. He has a special interest in the fields of forensics, world history, international relations and foreign policy, sports, agriculture, astronomy, security, and oceanography. An ardent bibliophile and melophile, Akhilesh loves to write on topics of his interest and various other societal issues. This love for writing made him enter the professional world of content writing and pursue his career in this direction.


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