Posted: February 15, 2014
Approx. 350 million people are chronically infected by hepatitis B virus (HBV), which is a major cause of liver cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinomas. Diagnostic tests for this virus are requried for two major purposes: the diagnosis of infected individuals and the screening of blood samples to prevent transmission during blood transfusion. Several serologic markers are currently used to detect HBV infection. A combination of markers is currently required due to the changing location of the virus in the blood stream or liver, depending on the stage of the infection.
Hepatitis B Core Protein Aptamers
Researchers at the University of Alberta recently discovered aptamers that specifically bind to the core protein of Hepatitis B (HBcAg).1 This discovery opens up the possibility of developing new and sensitive tests for this disease marker, which is not currently screened for in commercial diagnostic panels. Aptamers have several advantages over antibody based tests including low cost and high thermal stability, making them suitable for markets where the refrigeration needed to store antibody test kits would be impractical. Targeting the HBcAg protein may also have potential in Hepatitis therapeutics.
1 Liu et al.: Anal. Chem. 2012, 84(18): 7603-7606. DOI: 10.1021/ac302047e
- Lab based screening of blood samples.
- POC diagnostics for Hepatitis B infection for patients recently exposed to the virus.
- Cheap and robust test for developing countries.
Technology Management Group
TEC Edmonton – University of Alberta