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ESR-13 Identification and characterisation of hepatitis B virus inhibitors

Project description
Available drugs are not capable of reliably eliminating hepatitis B virus (HBV) and achieving a cure of the infection. AiCuris is currently active in the search for inhibitors which differentiate by their molecular targets or mode of action. Based on hits from different screening approaches promising candidates need to be analysed in detail. A special focus will be on the discovery of drugs with the potential to eradicate the virus. As functional cure can currently only be analysed as sustained reduction of surface antigen levels in a surrogate animal model (woodchucks), we will initially focus on developing and establishing suitable biomarkers and in vitro assay systems with a higher throughput which can give a first indication of the inhibitors potential to cure.

Methods used: biochemistry, molecular biology, cell culture.

The Network
This PhD position is part of the European training network ANTIVIRALS ( The candidate will benefit from the ANTIVIRALS network, which includes regular (scientific) network meetings and training in research methodology and complementary skills. This research project offers unique opportunities for establishing a broad and international scientific network with partners from the academic and industrial sector. The research project is performed in close collaboration with and partly at the premises of other institutions of the ANTIVIRALS network.

Host institute
AiCuris (name derived from “anti-infective cures”) is a pharmaceutical company focused exclusively on the discovery, research and development of novel antiviral and antibacterial agents for the treatment of severe and potentially life-threatening infectious diseases. It has a broad and innovative pipeline for discovering highly innovative, resistance-breaking compounds. AiCuris concentrates on markets with high medical need, such as HIV, HSV, HCMV and Hepatitis B and C. As a spin-of company of Bayer HealthCare, it leans on long experience in the field of anti-infective drug development. In 2013, AiCuris won the Deloitte Recap ALLICENSE 2013 "Breakthrough Alliance Award" for a deal with Merck MSD on a HCMV candidate.
More information on AiCuris can be found at

Research of the ESR will be embedded in a respective Ph.D. program (probably at the university of Heidelberg)

Vacancy closed