Updated
April 12th, 2019

A Scientific Strategy To Cure Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B vaccines include ENGERIX-B, RECOMBIVAX HB, HEPLISAV-B, PEDIARIX, and TWINRIX

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Chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection is a global public health challenge on the same scale as tuberculosis, HIV, and malaria, says the International Coalition to Eliminate HBV (ICE-HBV) in a new study published in The Lancet on April 10, 2019. 

Following extensive consultation with more than 50 scientists from across the globe, the ICE-HBV has identified gaps in their current knowledge. 

Moreover, the ICE-HBV says new strategies and tools are required to realize a cure for patients with HBV. 

This is important news since over 250 million people worldwide are chronically infected with hepatitis B virus, and even though a prophylactic vaccine and effective antiviral therapies are available, no cure currently exists. 

The ICE-HBV believes that research must focus:

  • on the discovery of interventional strategies that will permanently reduce the number of productively infected cells
  • permanently silence the covalently closed circular DNA in those cells
  • that will stimulate HBV-specific host immune responses which mimic spontaneous resolution of HBV infection

The ultimate aim of HBV cure regimens should be the eradication of the virus and all its replicative intermediates. 

However, since even natural clearance of acute HBV does not always result in eradication of the reservoir cccDNA, complete eradication may be an unrealistic outcome. 

Functional cure, defined as “sustained durable HBsAg loss with undetectable serum DNA allowing treatment cessation” may be a more realistic goal. 

A combination of strategies which target both the viral replication cycle and enhance the immune response to viral antigens will most likely be required. 

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There is also a pressing need for the establishment of repositories of standardized HBV reagents and protocols that can be accessed by all HBV researchers throughout the world. 

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The HBV cure research agenda outlined in this position paper will contribute markedly to the goal of eliminating HBV infection worldwide.

Hepatitis B is a serious disease caused by a virus that attacks the liver. This virus can cause lifelong infection, cirrhosis (scarring) of the liver, liver cancer, liver failure, and death, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

In the USA, there are 3 single-antigen vaccines and 2 combination HBV vaccines available:

To schedule a vaccination appointment at a local pharmacy, please click here.

Vaccine discounts can be found at GoodRx. 

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