Bim, which induces apoptosis, is overexpressed in T cells of patients unable to fight off the virus, according to JCI paper.

Scientists from University College London identified a key difference between people who can fight HBV off successfully and those who can’t. The researchers screened more than 5,000 genes in T cells from both recovered and chronically infected HBV patients.

They found that in the latter group, a proapoptotic protein found in T cells called Bim was overexpressed. Furthermore, blocking the protein induced“recovery of HBV-specific CD8+ T cells both in culture and directly ex vivo,” the investigators write.

Their findings are published in the April 9 issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation.