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The Viral Hepatitis Research Group

The group study how hepatitis viruses cause disease and how the body reacts to the infection, and the factors that contribute to the cure and/or control of the disease.

We focus both on basic research but also development of new therapies. The group has several national and international cooperations in both academia and in the pharmaceutical industry. The translational research is conducted in collaboration with the Unit for Infectious Diseases, Karolinska University Hospital Huddinge and Linköping University Hospital.

Viral hepatitis is a major health problem with approximately half a billion people infected world-wide. The viruses that primarily causes liver inflammation are hepatitis A, B, C, D and E. The infection is characterized by mild to severe disease, including jaundice, fever, myalgia, nausea, fatigue, vomiting, fatty liver, cirrhosis, liver failure and liver cancer. Hepatitis viruses can be divided into two groups depending on how the virus is transmitted between individuals. Hepatitis A and E are transmitted by the fecal-oral route (eg. ingestion of contaminated water and food) and hepatitis B, C and D are mainly transmitted parenterally (eg. infected blood). Prevention is available by prophylactic vaccines for hepatitis A, B and D, but not for hepatitis C and E. Antiviral treatments are available for hepatitis B, C and D, but with varying responses depending on the type of infecting virus.

Group members

Gustaf AhlénProjektledare
Lisbeth BarkholtAnknuten
Erwin BrenndörferAnknuten
Lars FrelinForskare
Catharina HultgrenForskningssamordnare
Markus KrantzAnknuten
Panagiota MaraveliaForskningsassistent, UF
Anna PasettoLektor
Matti SällbergProfessor/biomedicinsk analytiker
Jonas SöderholmAnknuten

Research techniques

  • Genetic engineering
  • Cell culture
  • Enzyme-linked immunosorbent spot (ELISPOT) assay
  • FluoroSpot assay
  • Fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS) analysis
  • Intracellular cytokine staining (ICS)
  • Pentamer staining
  • Proliferation assay
  • Cytotoxicity assay (51Cr release assay)
  • Cloning
  • RT-PCR
  • Sequencing
  • Isolation of DNA and RNA
  • Agarose gel electrophoresis
  • Enzyme Linked Immunosorbant assays (ELISA)
  • Western blot
  • In vivo imaging (IVIS)
  • Histology

External funding

Swedish Research Council, Swedish Cancer Society, Vinnova, Stockholm County Council, Swedish Society of Medicine, Goljes Memorial Fund, Åke Wiberg Foundation, Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Ruth and Richard Julin Foundation, Lars Hierta Memorial Foundation, Magnus Bergwalls Foundation, Swedish Society for Medical Research, Professor Nanna Svartz Fund, ChronTech Pharma AB

Teaching assignments

Programme in Biomedical Laboratory Science, Programme in Dentistry, Programme in Dental Hygiene, Programme in Medicine, Programme in Nursing Science

Selected publications

Therapeutic DNA vaccination using in vivo electroporation followed by standard of care therapy in patients with genotype 1 chronic hepatitis C.
Weiland O, Ahlén G, Diepolder H, Jung M, Levander S, Fons M, et al
Mol. Ther. 2013 Sep;21(9):1796-805

A heterologous prime/boost vaccination strategy enhances the immunogenicity of therapeutic vaccines for hepatitis C virus.
Fournillier A, Frelin L, Jacquier E, Ahlén G, Brass A, Gerossier E, et al
J. Infect. Dis. 2013 Sep;208(6):1008-19



Hepatitis C virus non-structural 3/4A protein interferes with intrahepatic interferon-γ production.
Brenndörfer E, Brass A, Söderholm J, Frelin L, Aleman S, Bode J, et al
Gut 2012 Apr;61(4):589-96