Efficacy of hepatitis B virus ribonuclease H inhibitors, a new class of replication antagonists, in FRG human liver chimeric mice
Chronic hepatitis B virus infection cannot be cured by current therapies, so new treatments are urgently needed. We recently identified novel inhibitors of the hepatitis B virus ribonuclease H that suppress viral replication in cell culture. Here, we employed immunodeficient FRG KO mice whose livers had been engrafted with primary human hepatocytes to ask whether ribonuclease H inhibitors can suppress hepatitis B virus replication in vivo. Humanized FRG KO mice infected with hepatitis B virus were treated for two weeks with the ribonuclease H inhibitors #110, an α-hydroxytropolone, and #208, an N-hydroxypyridinedione. Hepatitis B virus viral titers and S and e antigen plasma levels were measured. Treatment with #110 and #208 caused significant reductions in plasma viremia without affecting hepatitis B virus S or e antigen levels, and viral titers rebounded following treatment cessation. This is the expected pattern for inhibitors of viral DNA synthesis. Compound #208 suppressed viral titers of both hepatitis B virus genotype A and C isolates. These data indicate that Hepatitis B virus replication can be suppressed during infection in an animal by inhibiting the viral ribonuclease H, validating the ribonuclease H as a novel target for antiviral drug development.