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Abstract

Treatment of chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection with interferon alfa and lamivudine is characterized by lack of viral clearance, loss of response, or emergence of drug-resistant mutants. Thus, new and multiple drug approaches are needed. We have developed two fully human monoclonal antibodies, directed against different epitopes of hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) that bind to all major HBV subtypes. A phase I clinical study was conducted to evaluate the safety, tolerability, and efficacy of a mixture of these two monoclonal antibodies, HBV-ABXTL. A total of 27 chronic HBV patients were enrolled. In part A of the study 15 patients in 5 cohorts received a single intravenous infusion of antibodies with doses ranging from 0.26 mg (260 IU) to 40 mg (40,000 IU). All patients completed 16 weeks of follow-up. In the second part of the study (part B), 12 patients in 4 cohorts received 4 weekly infusions of 10, 20, 40, or 80 mg each of HBV-ABXTL and were followed for 4 additional weeks. Administration of antibodies was well tolerated. Patients administered doses at an Ab:Ag molar ratio of 1:2 to 1:20 showed a rapid and significant decrease in HBsAg to undetectable levels, with a corresponding reduction of HBV-DNA levels. In part B, HBV-ABXTL induced a significant reduction in both HBsAg and HBV-DNA levels repeatedly after administration. In conclusion, these data suggest that HBV-ABXTL binds HBV particles and reduces serum viral titers and HBsAg levels. HBV-ABXTL could be combined with other monotherapies that are currently used to treat HBV carriers. (HEPATOLOGY 2002;35:673-679.)