Related Articles Hepatitis B core protein as a therapeutic target. Expert Opin Ther Targets. 2017 Oct 25;: Authors: Mak LY, Wong DK, Seto WK, Lai CL, Yuen MF Abstract INTRODUCTION: Chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection is difficult to cure, due to the presence of covalently-closed-circular DNA and virus-mediated blunting of host immune response. Existing therapies with nucleos(t)ide analogue or pegylated-interferon are not sufficient to achieve a high rate of HBV surface antigen seroclearance, a more desirable treatment outcome. Novel therapeutic agents targeting alternative viral replication steps are being developed. In this review, we will discuss the hepatitis B core antigen (HBcAg) as a therapeutic target. Areas covered: The basic structure and fundamental functions of HBcAg including nucleocapsid assembly, pre-genomic RNA encapsidation, reverse transcription, virion formation, cccDNA amplification, immune response regulation, and HBx protein interaction will be reviewed. Most of these are identified as therapeutic targets and tested in in vitro and in vivo studies, although clinical trials are scanty. Among the different components, the core protein allosteric modulators (CpAM) have been most widely investigated and appear promising in clinical trials. Expert opinion: The multiple and essential functions of HBcAg for HBV life cycle are important and attractive targets for HBV therapeutic interventions. Controlled trials involving CpAM are awaited. Apart from CpAM, drugs directed against different functions of HBcAg may be further explored to maximize the chance of cure. PMID: 29065733 [PubMed – as supplied by publisher]

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Hepatitis B core protein as a therapeutic target.