Copyright ©The Author(s) 2004. Published by Baishideng Publishing Group Inc. All rights reserved.
World J Gastroenterol. Aug 1, 2004; 10(15): 2157-2162
Published online Aug 1, 2004. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v10.i15.2157
Hepatitis E: An overview and recent advances in vaccine research
Ling Wang, Hui Zhuang
Ling Wang, Hui Zhuang, Department of Microbiology, Peking University Health Science Center, Beijing 100083, China
Author contributions: All authors contributed equally to the work.
Supported by the National Major Projects of National Committee of Science and Technology (2502AA2Z3342), and the Beijing Municipal Committee of Science and Technology (H020920020190)
Correspondence to: Hui Zhuang, Professor of Department of Microbiology, Peking University Health Science Center, Beijing 100083, China.
Telephone: +86-10-82802221 Fax: +86-10-82801617
Received: November 22, 2003
Revised: December 23, 2003
Accepted: January 8, 2004
Published online: August 1, 2004

Hepatitis E virus (HEV) is an unclassified, small, non-enveloped RNA virus, as a causative agent of acute hepatitis E that is transmitted principally via the fecal-oral route. The virus can cause large water-born epidemics of the disease and sporadic cases as well. Hepatitis E occurs predominantly in developing countries, usually affecting young adults, with a high fatality rate up to 15%-20% in pregnant women. However, no effective treatment currently exists for hepatitis E, and the only cure is prevention. But so far there are no commercial vaccines for hepatitis E available in the world. Although at least four major genotypes of HEV have been identified to date, only one serotype of HEV is recognized. So there is a possibility to produce a broadly protective vaccine. Several studies for the development of an effective vaccine against hepatitis E are in progress and the best candidate at present for a hepatitis E vaccine is a recombinant HEV capsid antigen expressed in insect cells from a baculovirus vector. In this article, the recent advances of hepatitis E and the development of vaccine research for HEV including recombinant protein vaccine, DNA vaccine and the recombinant hepatitis E virus like particles (rHEV VLPs) are briefly reviewed.

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