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Virology researcher awarded nearly $2 million to study chronic hepatitis E
Date:2/19/2013

For individuals with compromised immune systems, chronic infections can be deadly. Thanks to a nearly $2 million grant, a professor in the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine will be working to better understand chronic hepatitis E virus infections.

X.J. Meng, a professor of virology on the college's Virginia Tech campus, received the five-year grant from the National Institutes of Health. He directs a lab in the Center for Molecular Medicine and Infectious Disease that is considered one of the world's leading hepatitis E virus research centers.

Meng and his colleagues have spent years studying the hepatitis E virus and are now turning their attention to chronic cases of the virus which causes more than 20 million liver infections every year.

"Hepatitis E is generally considered an acute, self-limiting disease," said Meng, who is in the department of biomedical sciences and pathobiology. "Patients with hepatitis E virus typically recover from the acute infection without going into chronicity, but in the last few years, there's been a significant increase in the number of chronic infections among immunocompromised individuals, such as organ transplant recipients, HIV/AIDS patients, and leukemia and lymphoma patients."

More than 60 percent of all hepatitis E infections and 65 percent of all hepatitis E deaths occur in East and South Asia, according to the World Health Organization. The project seeks to develop a chronic hepatitis E model to study how and why the disease progresses into chronicity and its possible medical prevention and treatment.

Meng and his colleagues hypothesize that the impairment of certain host-immune responses is respon
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Contact: Sherrie R. Whaley
srwhaley@vt.edu
540-231-7911
Virginia Tech
Source:Eurekalert  

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