Matthews lab HBV Genomics for Elimination Laboratory

South African protea

My group works to improve insights into the biology of hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection.

With an estimated 300 million people infected globally, and causing a million deaths every year, this pathogen poses a serious public health threat. International targets have been set for elimination by the year 2030. However, HBV has been neglected by funding, advocacy, education and research, and there are still many gaps in our understanding of transmission, persistence and disease.

Working closely with collaborators in South Africa, as well as with patient cohorts in the UK, we are recruiting adults with chronic HBV to study the different outcomes of infection, which include long term persistence, liver inflammation, cirrhosis and cancer. By sequencing the genetic code of the virus, we can gain insights into interactions between the host and the virus. This provides the opportunity to better understand the role of immune responses in control or clearance of infection, determine the impact of antiviral treatment, and form an evidence base for optimum vaccination strategies. 

Overall, our research works towards developing an enhanced picture of the burden of disease caused by HBV in different populations, to inform improved approaches to surveillance and treatment for individual patients, and to enhance public health strategies for prevention, underpinning progress towards global 2030 targets.