Research interest: Immunobiology of Viral Hepatitis
Hepatitis viruses are worldwide among the most widespread human pathogens posing a significant global health burden. Although HBV infection can be prevented by prophylactic vaccination, still an estimated 2 billion people show markers of Hepatitis B Virus (HBV) infection, and 400 million people are chronic carriers of HBV. For Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) an estimated 200 million people show serological markers of infection and 150 million people are chronically infected with HCV. Chronic infections with hepatitis viruses are associated with progressive liver disease and may ultimately cause liver cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma. Current therapies for chronic hepatitis B are effective only in a fraction of patients and sustained inhibition of viral replication frequently requires lifelong therapy. The treatment options against HCV are rapidly expanding and numerous directly acting antivirals (DAA) against HCV have been recently approved for therapy. Despite this enormous success in treatment development against HCV, for global eradication of HCV prophylactic vaccination will likely be required. Our research is focused on the determinants of successful immune control of HCV and HBV and the viral strategies of immune evasion.