When the Hepatitis B Virus (HBV) is attacked it remains intracellularly as a covalently closed circular DNA (cccDNA) which can give raise to new viruses. In a Perspective contribution to Science (DOI: 10.1126/science.1252186) Amir Shlomai and Charles M. Rice describe an article by Lucifora et al. (DOI: 10.1126/science.1243462) who found a way to get rid of the cccDNA. These researcher found that interferon-α treatment or action via the lymphotoxin-β receptor activated de-aminination of viral cccDNA which renders the viral DNA inactive and receptive to degradation.
The enzymes triggered in the above described processes are apolipoprotein B mRNA editing enzyme APOBEC3A and APOBEC3B, which only work in conjunction with HBV not HIV. Their presence is necessary in order to elicit a virus depletion in liver cells.
This is good news for 400 Million people infected with HBV since it shows that the virus not only can be kept in charge but eliminated, too.