Effective Control and Eventual Elimination of Hepatitis B: A Strategic Focus

Fudan University: Identifying DNA Markers of HBV-caused Cirrhosis and Liver Cancer [2014-]

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ZeShan Foundation and Si Yuan Foundation are jointly funding Fudan University to conduct genetic research that aims to identify genetic markers indicating greater risks of hepatitis B progressing to cirrhosis and liver cancer, and ultimately to develop commercially viable diagnostic kits. The studies are expected to contribute to earlier detection and treatment of cirrhosis and liver cancer among the Chinese population.

Chronic hepatitis B (CHB) and CHB-caused liver diseases are highly prevalent in China. 20-30% of CHB cases develop into cirrhosis and/or hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), the most common liver cancer and the second-most common cancer among Chinese males; at least 80% of all cirrhosis and HCC cases are caused by CHB. Over 25% (90 million) of the world’s current CHB cases and 55% (0.33 million) of the world’s yearly new HCC cases are in China. In the country, HCC is often diagnosed only in its mid or advanced stages with a 5-year survival rate of below 30%. 

The research project is carried out by Fudan University’s School of Life Sciences, to date the largest of its kind according to the university. The principal investigator, Prof. YU Long, has two decades of research experience in liver cancer and is the first in the world to identify DNA markers of CHB-related liver diseases. This extension of funding support by ZeShan to the secondary and tertiary prevention of CHB is part of the foundation’s multi-pronged strategic focus of effectively controlling and eventually eliminating the disease. 

Research Findings
The research team, in collaboration with over 65 researchers from more than 30 Chinese and international research teams, has been creating a large-scale, high-quality sample bank of complete blood samples accompanied by detailed clinical data. Due to the prevalence of CBH in China, the team has been able to collect over 30,000 blood samples from different parts of the country.

From the blood samples, the team extracts DNA to conduct genome-wide association studies: The genetic variants of CHB patients with cirrhosis/HCC and control groups (i.e., CHB patients without the two diseases) are compared so as to isolate genetic markers – in this case DNA sequence known as single-nucleotide polymorphisms – associated with greater likelihood of cirrhosis or HCC. So far, the team has identified five DNA markers associated with cirrhosis and two with HCC. The findings have been published in the top-tier genetics journal Nature Genetics and other international peer-reviewed scientific journals.

Based on the findings, the team will build a risk prediction model of cirrhosis and HCC for the Chinese population, and accordingly develop diagnostic test kits – eventually for commercial application – that screen a person for those DNA markers indicating higher risks in cirrhosis and HCC. These will enable earlier, more targeted and more accurate diagnosis as well as intervention.

The team will also attempt to understand the molecular mechanisms behind the association of the genetic markers with the liver diseases, so as to understand the causes and contributing factors of the diseases. Along with the team’s other research on genetic markers associated with lower effectiveness of current liver disease drugs on some patients, these would facilitate the development of more effectiveness drugs and treatment.      

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ZeShan Foundation is committed to protecting your privacy. Personal information including names, mailing addresses, e-mail addresses, etc. submitted through this website will only be used to contact you in regard to ZeShan Foundation's activities and news. We will not distribute or sell your personal information to any outside individuals or organizations. Your personal data will not be used for any other purposes without your consent unless such use is required by law.

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This website is the property of ZeShan Foundation. The information on the website is meant for reference only. ZeShan Foundation does not warrant or represent that the information provided here is complete, nor that the information is up to date.

The site may contain links to third-party websites. These third-party websites are beyond the control of the Foundation and the Foundation does not accept any responsibility, nor endorse explicitly, the content of these websites or for any transactions that you may make on these websites.

ZeShan Foundation is not responsible for any damage, loss or corruption of data that may occur while viewing or using any material from this website.

If you have any questions, please contact us.