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Anonymous donor provides record gift for hepatitis B research

The contribution will support two innovative research projects aimed at finding a cure for hepatitis B.

Doylestown, Pa., Jan. 13, 2022 – A very generous Florida couple who wishes to remain anonymous has contributed $500,000 to the Baruch S. Blumberg Institute, the research arm of the Hepatitis B Foundation, to advance research toward a cure for hepatitis B, the most common serious liver infection in the world.

The gift is the largest in the organization’s history. The funds will enable Blumberg Institute researchers, led by Ju-Tao Guo, MD, vice president for research and W. Thomas London Professor, to pursue new strategies to cure hepatitis B.

 Ju Tao Guo MD 4

Ju-Tao Guo, MD

One strategy uses gene editing and mRNA; the other targets the viral surface antigen using a novel screening technique.

“Both strategies are unique and should go a long way in opening up an entirely new way to treat chronic hepatitis B,” said Timothy M. Block, PhD, president and co-founder of the Hepatitis B Foundation and Blumberg Institute, who is involved closely with the research projects. “This is the kind of innovation that is needed for there to be a cure for hepatitis B.”

When the donor first contacted the Hepatitis B Foundation last summer, his phone call to the Foundation’s Helpline went, simply by chance, to Chari Cohen, DrPH, MPH, the Foundation’s senior vice president and incoming president as of this July. Their productive conversation was the first of many leading the record-setting contribution.

The donor expressed interest in progress toward a cure for hepatitis B. After learning details about the Blumberg Institute’s research program, he concluded that the Institute is the best place to invest in scientific efforts focused on curing the disease.

“This wonderfully generous support is making possible some very promising research on a cure, and the Foundation and entire hepatitis B community are extremely grateful,” Dr. Cohen said.

About Hepatitis B: Caused by the hepatitis B virus, the disease attacks and injures the liver. Each year up to 1 million people die from hepatitis B worldwide, even though it is preventable and treatable. The number of adults living in the U.S. who have chronic hepatitis B infection may be as high as 2.4 million, which is nearly three times greater than the federal government’s official estimate, according to a new report by a team of public health experts, scientists and physicians. Hepatitis B is a “silent epidemic” because most people do not have symptoms when they are newly or chronically infected. Thus, they can unknowingly infect others and continue the spread of hepatitis B. For people who are chronically infected but don’t have any symptoms, their livers are still being silently damaged, which can develop into serious liver disease such as cirrhosis or liver cancer.

About the Hepatitis B Foundation: We are the nation’s leading nonprofit organization solely dedicated to finding a cure for hepatitis B and improving the quality of life for those affected worldwide through research, education and patient advocacy. Founded in 1991, the Hepatitis B Foundation is based in Doylestown, Pa., with an office in Washington, D.C. To learn more, go to www.hepb.org and www.hepb30years.org, read our blog at hepb.org/blog, follow us on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook (@hepbfoundation) or call us at 215-489-4900. To donate, contact Jean Holmes at 215-489-4900 or jean.holmes@hepb.org.