Study: Active Substance Shows Promise Against Hepatitis E Virus

Jennifer Barrett, Associate Editor
Published Online: Monday, August 6th, 2018
Silvestrol, an active substance formed by 400 different types of mahogany plants, may be key to developing a potential cure for hepatitis E virus (HEV), according to a recent study published in Antiviral Research.
Although acute infections caused by HEV typically resolve by themselves, the virus can become chronic in patients with reduced or suppressed immune systems, such as organ transplant recipients or HIV-positive patients. Additionally, women who are pregnant are more likely to experience severe illness due to HEV that can lead to death. While rare in the United States, HEV is common in many other parts of the world.
Researchers from Ruhr-Universität Bochum are the first to have established a comprehensive test system for active substances against HEV, from cell culture and stem cells to animal models, according to a press release.  
For the study, the researchers investigated the effect of silvestrol on the virus.
“We first treated what are known as reporter viruses with silvestrol in cell cultures and found that they replicated less than without the treatment,” study author Daniel Todt, PhD, said in a press release.
Following this finding, the researchers used stem cells to differentiate into liver cells and infected them with HEV. Over the course of several days, they observed the course of infection with and without silvestrol.
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