Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver, most often caused by a virus, in which case it is referred to as viral hepatitis. Toxic substances, such as alcohol or certain drugs, may also be responsible for cases of toxic hepatitis.
Of the six known types of hepatitis virus (A, B, C, D, E and G), the B and C viruses, which are mainly transmitted through exposure to infected biological fluids, are especially worrying because of the number of cases, and the seriousness of complications.
Over 400 million people worldwide are infected with the hepatitis B (HBV) or hepatitis C (HCV) viruses.
The disease presently remains underdiagnosed and undertreated: one infected person in 20 is aware of his/her infection, and only one person in 100 is treated, according to WHO.
In this context, World Hepatitis Day, which will be held on Thursday 28 July 2016, is aimed at better informing the public on the characteristics of this disease and developing access to screening and treatment opportunities.
Work carried out at Inserm Unit 966, “HIV and Hepatitis Viruses: Morphogenesis and Antigenicity,” focuses on elucidating the stages in the genesis of the hepatitis viruses, and the development of innovative vaccine strategies. Prof. Philippe Roingeard and his team have developed a bivalent vaccine effective against both hepatitis B and C. The vaccine has shown promise when tested in an animal model.
Meanwhile, the researchers from Inserm Unit 1110, “Institute of Viral and Liver Disease,” are analysing virus-host interactions and progression of liver diseases, with a view to designing new antiviral agents and vaccines. In a recent study, they highlight the potential of a new experimental strategy against the hepatitis C virus. According to their results, a monoclonal antibody directed against the liver protein claudin-1 enables prevention and treatment of HCV infection in an animal model.
To find out more: “Targeting a host receptor instead of the virus: a new experimental approach against hepatitis C virus.”
Researchers from Inserm are available to respond to your needs in relation to reporting or interviews.
 Source: WHO