In 1977, Mario Rizetto an Italian virologist found a distinct new nuclear antigen (protein in the nucleus of the cell) in the liver cells of chronic hepatitis B patients. The antigen had a higher prevalence in hepatitis B patients with liver damage. The protein was termed as the ‘delta’ antigen. In the 1980s, the delta antigen was found to be part of a unique RNA virus that used the hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) as its outer coat and required prior infection with the hepatitis B virus (HBV). The genome of the hepatitis D virus (HDV) was cloned and sequenced in 1986.
Author: Minaam Abbas