I found out through Google News yesterday that the FDA approved a new drug for the treatment of Hepatitis B.
Now, normally, I would have ignored a story like that. Im not really all that interested in antivirals– pharm research is on the opposite end of the research-spectrum of me. And theyre coming out with new drugs all the time (and pulling drugs off the market all the time…). Drugs arent my thing. Plus, Hepatitis B is a DNA virus, not a retrovirus… so, I mean “YAY! New therapy!” but this news story just isnt my cup of tea.
… Or is it? hehehehehe!!
The drug the FDA approved isnt just another drug.
Its an anti-HIV-1 drug that has been on the market since 2001, Viread. Viread is a lot like AZT, the very first anti-HIV-1 drug. These guys are ‘fake’ nucleotides that jam RT, thus prevent the process of reverse transcription. Blocking reverse transcription means you screw up the retroviruses life cycle.
“WAIT A MINUTE!” you readers might scream. “You just said Hepatitis B is a DNA virus! Why does an RT inhibitor work against a DNA virus?? It doesnt reverse transcribe! That doesnt make any sense. You lie, ERV. Why do you lie?”
Im not lying! Hepatitis B is a DNA virus AND RT inhibitors work against it because Hepatitis Bs life cycle has a reverse transcription step!!!!
AHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!! RETROVIRUSES ARENT THE ONLY VIRUSES THAT REVERSE TRANSCRIBE AAAAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!
When a Hepatitis B virus infects a cell, its DNA genome gets trafficked to the host cells nucleus. There, a really long RNA is transcribed from the DNA genome (just like ‘normal‘), and it gets shipped out of the nucleus. In the cytoplasm, a viral protein ‘P’ reverse transcribes the RNA back into DNA to generate copies of the Hepatitis B genome!
Some of these duplicated genomes get trafficked back into the host cells nucleus (10-20 HBV genomes can be in one cells nucleus), and some get packaged into baby viruses.
Hepatitis B is a DNA virus with a reverse transcription step in its life cycle, so RT-inhibitors work against HBV too! I think thats so cool