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In Scientific reports ; h5-index 158.0

Chronic infection with Hepatitis B virus (HBV) is a major risk factor for the development of advanced liver disease including fibrosis, cirrhosis, and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). The relative contribution of virological factors to disease progression has not been fully defined and tools aiding the deconvolution of complex patient virus profiles is an unmet clinical need. Variable viral mutant signatures develop within individual patients due to the low-fidelity replication of the viral polymerase creating 'quasispecies' populations. Here we present the first comprehensive survey of the diversity of HBV quasispecies through ultra-deep sequencing of the complete HBV genome across two distinct European and Asian patient populations. Seroconversion to the HBV e antigen (HBeAg) represents a critical clinical waymark in infected individuals. Using a machine learning approach, a model was developed to determine the viral variants that accurately classify HBeAg status. Serial surveys of patient quasispecies populations and advanced analytics will facilitate clinical decision support for chronic HBV infection and direct therapeutic strategies through improved patient stratification.

Mueller-Breckenridge Alan J, Garcia-Alcalde Fernando, Wildum Steffen, Smits Saskia L, de Man Robert A, van Campenhout Margo J H, Brouwer Willem P, Niu Jianjun, Young John A T, Najera Isabel, Zhu Lina, Wu Daitze, Racek Tomas, Hundie Gadissa Bedada, Lin Yong, Boucher Charles A, van de Vijver David, Haagmans Bart L