About infectious diseases

The hepatitis B virus attacks the liver

Roche research in infectious diseases addresses areas of high unmet medical need and aims at revolutionizing treatment paradigms.

Infectious diseases caused by viral or bacterial pathogens are a major cause of death and morbidity worldwide and constitute an ever growing medical need. Developing countries are strongly affected, but the Western World and East Asia are also facing considerable healthcare challenges in this area.

Roche focuses on discovery, research and development of new anti-infective agents, targeting both the pathogen as well as the host immune defenses. In this, we build on an industry-leading technology platform and on a rich legacy of research in this field, which produced some outstanding therapeutics throughout Roche history.

Currently, Infectious Diseases Research at Roche focuses on three main areas:

Chronic Hepatitis B Infection

HBV is the most pathogenic of all hepatitis types, because it is frequently and strongly associated with irreversible liver damage, chronic active hepatitis, and the development of cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma. Current HBV medicines can effectively suppress viral replication, but achieve a cure in fewer than 3% of patients and do not eliminate the risk of liver cancer. The inability to achieve cure means that treatment must usually be lifelong.

Our strategy to achieve HBV cure with finite treatment is to combine two very different therapeutic approaches: one targeting the HBV life cycle (direct antivirals), and the other boosting the immune system’s ability to clear the virus (immune enhancers).


Influenza is still a leading cause of death in young, elderly and immune-compromised patients. The need for new therapies addressing resistance to antivirals is also very urgent. Roche has a number of innovative projects in the discovery phase, targeting influenza A and B and host-pathogen interaction.

Multi-Drug Resistant Bacteria

Despite more than 150 antibiotics currently on the market, the medical need is far from covered. Bacterial infections that do not react to any of the existing drugs or require complex, lengthy and often toxic multi-drug treatments are a growing issue. Multi-drug-resistant Gram-negative bacterial strains are unanimously perceived as the biggest threat.

Leveraging its expertise in diagnostics, Roche is also pursuing new approaches to treat drug resistant bacterial infections.

HBV virus - the little big enemy