Hepatitis E virus (HEV) infection is gaining global attention, not only because of the increasing burden of the disease in low endemicity countries, in terms of morbidity and mortality rates, but also due to recent advances in the molecular virology and epidemiology of this emerging pathogen. HEV infection spread can be described as the evolution of a zoonosis towards an established human infection. As known from other viruses, such as the human immunodeficiency virus or the influenza viruses, crossing the species barriers from animals to humans is a recurrent phenomenon. Albeit slow at the beginning, once the virus has adapted to humans, the person-to-person spread can proceed very quickly. Although an optimal cell culture system for HEV is not yet available, outstanding progress has been made with the in vitro expression of HEV-like particles. These new tools have fostered new research to understand the molecular, structural and immunological aspects of human HEV infection. Although some promising data from Phase II vaccine trials are available, recent discoveries will certainly open new avenues for HEV-specific prophylaxis and therapy.
Keywords: Hepevirus; vaccines; crystal structures; liver transplantations
Journal Article. 3135 words.
Subjects: Medical Oncology ; Critical Care
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