Introduction The hepatitis B virus

Source:  Introduction The hepatitis B virus    Tag:  hepatitis b virus structure

The hepatitis B virus is classified by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as the world’s second greatest carcinogen after tobacco.

Type B hepatitis is caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV), a small enveloped DNA virus that infects the liver causing hepatocellular necrosis and inflammation. HBV can cause either an acute illness or chronic, persistent infection. Acute or chronic infection can lead to severe liver damage and is therefore potentially fatal.

After the identification in 1965 of the hepatitis B surface antigen, called HBsAg, hepatitis B was clearly linked to the development of cirrhosis and primary liver cancer. The virus and subviral particles were identified in serum and the genome of the virus was isolated and characterised as a small circular molecule of DNA.