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New Hepatitis B Virus Genes Decoded

Chinese scientists have decoded two new genes found in the hepatitis B virus (HBV) genome. It is hoped that the discovery will lead to a new treatment for the disease.

A research team at the No.302 Hospital of the Chinese People's Liberation Army found the new genes after cloning and analyzing the gene sequencing of HBV taken from blood of HBV patients in China, said Cheng Jun, leader of the research team, Wednesday.

For the past 25 years, scientists have believed that HBV genome contained four open reading frames. The new discovery brings the number of open reading frames to six.

The finding will not only enhance research into the HBV virus and treatment of the disease, for instance, by helping develop a new antigen for the virus, but also the treatment of liver cancer, he said.

Some 350 million people worldwide are victims of hepatitis B, only one third of whom show a favorable response to presently available treatment. Many of the other sufferers will develop liver cancer.


Further research will be needed to identify how far the new genes will contribute to the treatment of hepatitis B and liver cancer, Cheng said.


(Xinhua News Agency August 21, 2003)

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