The research group of D. Glebe is focused on the molecular biology and clinical virology of hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis D virus (HDV). The aim of the research is to elucidate the molecular basis of the interaction of these viruses with their host cells in order to gain a fundamental understanding of the viral infection process.
Infections with the human hepatitis B virus can lead to acute and chronic inflammation of the liver (hepatitis), which can result in liver cirrhosis, liver failure or liver cancer in the long term. Worldwide about 240 million people suffer from chronic infections with this malicious virus, about 600,000 die annually from the later sequelae of HBV infections. Of the 240 million people chronically infected with HBV, an estimated 11 million are also chronically infected with HDV. HDV is only found in combination with HBV infection and very often leads to severe chronic hepatitis.
During the last seven years, D. Glebe has devoted substantial parts of his research to the understanding of processes that constitute current genetic diversity, infectivity and pathogenicity of human hepatitis B virus and related animal viruses from the orthohepadnavirus family. Among the scientific achievements he has initiated or played a significant role in are:
Isolation of a novel monkey HBV from infected Brazilian capuchin monkeys, with implications for our understanding of the evolution of HBV in monkeys and humans (Carvalho Dominguez Souza et al., J. Hepatology, 2018).
Isolation, reconstruction and characterization of novel hepatitis B viruses from bats with zoonotic potential (Drexler et al., Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 2013).
Efficacy testing of antiviral substances against HBV in vitro, combined with the phenotypic determination of the resistance profile of HBV mutants against antiviral nucleos(t)id analogues in vitro (Geipel et al., Antivir Ther. 2015).
Establishment of a regulatable cell culture model for differential infection with HBV and HDV (König et al., J.Hepatol. 2014).
Characterization of hepatitis B virus mutants in HBV/HIV co-infected patients (Yousif et al., Int J Infect Dis. 2014).
Efficacy testing of neutralizing antibodies against HBV, combined with the development of alternative vaccine concepts for the optimized prevention of HBV infections. (Bremer et al., J. Hepatol., 2011).