Novel Cell Line for Hepatitis B Drug Discovery and Research

Web Published:

Novel Cell Line for Hepatitis B Drug Discovery and Research

Princeton Docket # 15-3077


Researchers in the Department of Molecular Biology at Princeton University have developed a novel cell line that is susceptible to hepatitis B and delta infections (HBV, HDV).  This cell culture system will allow the viruses and the host factors that modulate the viral life cycles to be studied.  Functional screens can be conducted to identify small molecule and/or biological inhibitors, which will ultimately lead to developing a curative agent for HBV and HDV.


Worldwide, there are about 400 million individuals chronically infected with hepatitis B virus, and of those individuals, 20 million are co-infected with HDV.  HDV is a small RNA virus that uses the HBV envelope to form infectious virions.  Infected individuals are at risk of developing severe liver disease or hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).  While a prophylactic HBV vaccine and treatments to suppress viremia exist, there is currently no cure for these viral infections.  The incidence of hepatocellular carcinoma is increasing, and it is currently the fifth leading cause of cancer-related death worldwide.  One main reason no cure has been developed is that there are currently no available laboratory cell lines that are permissive to HBV infection.



·         Cell culture system that supports HBV and HDV infections

·         Understand host factors that modulate viral life cycles

·         Screen small molecules and biologics to find curative agent for HBV and HDV infections


·         Susceptible to both HBV and HDV infections

·         Cells derived from single clone for limited population variability

·         Unlimited generation of cell supply

·         Standard media and reagents to grow and maintain cell line

Key Words


Hepatitis B and D virus, cell line, viral life cycle, antiviral therapy, hepatocellular carcinoma




Alexander Ploss, Ph.D., Benjamin Winer


Faculty inventor


Alexander Ploss, Assistant Professor of Molecular Biology


Dr. Ploss’s research focuses on immune responses and pathogenesis to human infectious diseases, including hepatitis viruses, related flaviviruses, and malaria.  His group combines tissue engineering, molecular virology/pathogenesis, and animal construction, to create and apply innovative technologies including humanized mouse models for the study and intervention of human hepatotropic infections.  In recognition of his work he received a Kimberly Lawrence Cancer Research Discovery Fund Award, the Astellas Young Investigator Award of the Infectious Diseases Society of America and the Liver Scholar Award from the American Liver Foundation.  He is a member of the Genomic Instability and Tumor Progression Program at the Cancer Institute of NJ.  Dr. Ploss completed his Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in biochemistry at the University of Tübingen, Germany including additional training the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at the University of Washington, Seattle, and at the German Cancer Research Center in Heidelberg, Germany.  Dr. Ploss completed his Ph.D. in Immunology at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center/Cornell University and postdoctoral training at the Rockefeller University.  Prior to joining the Department of Molecular Biology at Princeton University in 2013, he was a research associate professor at the Center for the Study of Hepatitis C at the Rockefeller University.


Intellectual Property Status

Patent applications are pending.  Princeton is seeking industrial collaborators for further development and commercialization of this technology.



Laurie Tzodikov
Princeton University Office of Technology Licensing • (609) 258-7256•


Sarah Johnson

Princeton University Office of Technology Licensing •


Patent Information:
For Information, Contact:
Laurie Tzodikov
Licensing Associates
Princeton University
Alexander Ploss
Benjamin Winer
infectious disease
life science research tools
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