Researchers from The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California report that the compound Interleukin-18 (IL-18) may control replication of the Hepatitis B virus (HBV) and be an effective therapy for patients already being treated for chronic hepatitis. Their results appear in the November 2002 issue of the Journal of Virology.
In the study, HBV-infected mice were treated with IL-18 and then monitored for varying levels of HBV DNA in the liver. HBV DNA levels significantly decreased after four hours and were almost undetectable after twenty-four hours.
"In conclusion, our observation that IL-18 can inhibit HBV replication in the livers of these transgenic mice, especially in concert with IL-12, raises the possibility that both of these cytokines may contribute to the control of HBV replication during natural HBV infection," say researchers. "Thus we suggest that IL-18, alone or together with IL-12, might have therapeutic potential for the treatment of patients with chronic HBV infection."
(K. Kimura, K. Kakimi, S. Weiland, L.G. Guidotti, F.V. Chisari. 2002. Interleukin-18 inhibits Hepatitis B Virus replication in the livers of transgenic mice. Journal of Virology, 76: 10702-10707.)
ENGINEERED BACTERIA DETECT POLLUTANTS
Researchers from the United Kingdom have genetically engineered a bacterium to detect herbicidal pollution in the environment. They report their findings in the October 2002 issue of the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology.
The use of engineered bacteria, also known as biosensors, to detect pollutants in the environment is nothing new, say the researchers from the University of Abedeen and the University of Cambridge. "However, existing biosensors show a poor response to herbicides, a key class of environmental pollutants."