New therapies for chronic hepatitis B

Authors

  • J. H. Hoofnagle,

    Corresponding author
    1. Liver Diseases Section, Digestive Diseases Branch, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD. USA
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  • D. Lau

    1. Liver Diseases Section, Digestive Diseases Branch, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD. USA
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Liver Diseases Section, Bldg 10. Rm 9B16. NIH. Bethesda, MD 20892. USA.

Abstract

Summary. Currently, the only therapy of proven benefit in chronic hepatitis B is interferon-alpha which leads to a long-term benefit in only one-third of patients. New therapies for hepatitis B fall into three categories; antiviral chemotherapy, immunomodulation with cell-based therapies, vaccines or cytokines, and gene therapy such as with antisense oligonucleotides, ribozymes or viral mutants. The most promising immediate approach to therapy is with the new nucleoside antivirals - lamivudine and famciclovir. These drugs are well absorbed orally, result in profound inhibition of circulating hepatitis B virus, and, in some cases, loss of hepatitis B e antigen and improvement in serum aminotransferases. Controlled trials of long-term famciclovir and lamivudine therapy currently underway aim to show whether these drugs are safe and can provide sustained inhibition of viral replication and attentant improvement in liver disease.

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