Infectious diseases

At a glance

Redirecting T-cells to target Hepatitis B virus

Lead researcher

Dr Leo Swadling


University College London



Amount awarded


Last updated



We're studying the gold-standard immune responses in patients that can control infection, and using these as a blueprint to tailor novel immunotherapies.
Dr Leo Swadling

Persistent infection with hepatitis B virus (HBV) is responsible for more than 700,000 deaths per year globally, due to resultant liver damage or hepatocellular cancer. Although antiviral drugs can effectively suppress HBV replication, they rarely lead to cure and are severely limited by the issues of compliance, cost, toxicity, and resistance associated with life-long therapy.

Dr Leo Swadling has been awarded a research grant to investigate methods for curing HBV, employing emerging technologies which allow redirection of healthy T cells (a type of immune cell) to recognise HBV. This involves transplanting a receptor with high-specificity for HBV into each T cell. These redirected T cells are in turn transferred into patients. Effective cure of HBV will require these T cells to recognise and kill infected liver cells.

This work will address an urgent clinical need by developing novel candidate therapies for HBV, and will broaden our understanding of what a gold-standard protective T cell in the liver looks like and how they function.

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Infectious diseases – Viral hepatitis

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    Around 300 million people worldwide are living with viral hepatitis; research is needed to provide better diagnostic and treatment options to help prevent the 1.3 million deaths that occur each year. The Medical Research Foundation is proud to support the global aim of eliminating viral hepatitis by funding research projects lead by promising and talented researchers.

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