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
|Contact: Sherrie R. Whaley|