Research breakthrough in mystery child hepatitis

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British researchers reported a breakthrough on Monday in a mysterious liver disease affecting young children, finding that the severe liver condition is linked to infection with two common viruses, but not the coronavirus.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has reported at least 1,010 possible casesincluding 46 who required transplants and 22 deaths from illness since last October.

The previous theories were based on the development of adenovirus infection which is usually found behind the cases.

But in two new studies conducted independently and at the same time in Scotland and London, scientists found another virusAAV2 (adeno-associated virus 2) played an important role and was present in 96 percent of all patients examined.

AAV2 is not known to cause disease and cannot replicate itself without a “helper” cell present.

Both groups concluded that the association with either AAV2 and adenovirus, or sometimes the herpes virus HHV6, provided the best explanation for severe hepatitis.

“The presence of the AAV2 virus is associated with undiagnosed hepatitis in children,” said professor of pathology Emma Thomson of the University of Glasgow, who led the Scottish journal, in a statement.

But she also warned that it has not yet been confirmed whether AAV2 is the cause of the disease disease or it may be a biomarker for adenovirus infection which is difficult to detect but is the main virus.

There is no link to the coronavirus

All of these documents have been posted online to “preprint” servers and are still pending peer review before they are published in journals.

Two studies looked at both patients who developed liver cancer and those who did not, finding that AAV2 was more common in those who developed the disease, not those who did not.

The Scottish study further tested the genes of children who did get sick and those who didn’t, and showed differences in their leukocyte antigens that could explain why some are more susceptible than others.

Both groups recently ruled out whether SARS-CoV-2 infection was the direct cause.

No coronavirus was found in the patients’ livers, and while the Scottish study found that two-thirds of patients had antibodies to the virus, the number was similar to the childhood population at the time.

It is not known why hepatitis has increased recently, but both groups emphasize the possibility that the lockdown may contribute, either by reducing immunity in children or by changing the way the disease spreads.

Deirdre Kelly, a professor of pediatric hepatology at the University of Birmingham who was not involved in the work, said: “I think this is a reasonable explanation for these cases. It looks like cash is the key. .”

But, she added, more work is needed to understand why some children develop serious illness and needs a transplant.

Thomson said it is also important “to better understand the nature of AAV2, a virus that is often overlooked.”

“It may be that the peak of adenovirus infection coincides with the peak of expression of AAV2, which leads to the expression of acute viral hepatitis. little children

Hepatitis in children associated with adeno-associated virus AAV2

© 2022 AFP

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