Hep B Blog

Hepatitis B Mutation Seen in Only Men, Increased Risk of Liver Cancer

High Level of Sexual Harassment in Men Linked to Purging: Study

Are you depressed? (Photo : Reuters)

Posted in Science World Report, October 17, 2013

A recent study looks at a form of hepatitis B that is only found in men and may explain higher rates for certain types of cancer.

According to a team of researchers from Seoul National University in Korea, they identified a mutation from the hepatitis B virus that seems to appear only in men and may explain why HBV-infected males are roughly five times more likely than HBV-infected women to develop certain types of liver cancer. Continue reading "Hepatitis B Mutation Seen in Only Men, Increased Risk of Liver Cancer"

Coffee Consumption Reduces Risk of Liver Cancer

“Our research confirms past claims that coffee is good for your health, and particularly the liver,” said Carlo La Vecchia, MD. (Credit: © volff / Fotolia)

Coffee consumption reduces risk of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), the most common type of liver cancer, by about 40 percent, according to an up-to-date meta-analysis published in Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology, the official clinical practice journal of the American Gastroenterological Association. Further, some data indicate that three cups of coffee per day reduce liver cancer risk by more than 50 percent.

Read more. 

Posted in Science Daily, October 22, 2013

ISIS/GSK and Tekmira Come Out with HBV Knockdown Plans

Harnessing the Power of RNAi Gene Silencing in Quest of a Cure for Chronic Hepatitis B, and the HBV KnockDown blog written by Dirk Haussecker, who believes it’s about time everyone got serious about a functional cure for hepatitis B. 

If you did not appreciate the value the pharmaceutical industry has come to place on the HBsAg knockdown concept for achieving a functional cure for chronic Hepatitis B (HBV) infection, the last two days will have woken you up.

Yesterday, ISIS Pharmaceuticals reported that it had received a $7M milestone payment related to the development of an antiviral RNaseH development candidate (ISIS-GSK3Rx, aka ISIS-HBVRx) which, although undisclosed for competitive reasons, has got to be for HBV.  And today, Tekmira publicly announced that they will file an IND for an HBV-RNAi candidate in 2014 while hinting at the partnering potential of such a treatment candidate.

Arrowhead Research is thus not alone in their efforts any more.  Coincidentally, Arrowhead reported today the completion of their enrollment of the phase I single-dose, healthy volunteer study with ARC520, their DPC-delivered candidate for chronic HBV.  Accordingly, the dose escalation was able to run through all the pre-planned 6 dose cohorts up to the top dose of 2.0mg/kg.

Apparently, there were no signs of significant dose-related toxicities.  The only finding of concern among the 36 volunteers, 24 of which received drug, was 2 cases of lightheadedness of uncertain clinical relevance.  As these occurred at the highest dose, it seems that the company suspects that it could have been drug-related although the study remains blinded for follow-up.

A dose of 2mg/kg without any serious adverse events or dose-limiting toxicities is a great start for DPC delivery technology.  This is especially the case when one considers that the single-molecule subQ version of DPC that I hope will form the basis for the upcoming pipeline candidates, except for the next one perhaps, will be much more potent than the two-molecule version of intravenously delivered ARC520 based on the non-human primate data presented at last year’s OTS meeting.

With 2mg/kg of ARC520, I further believe that HBsAg knockdowns of over 90% are likely.  The biggest challenge going forward with this program will be setting a knockdown goal and getting the dose and dose frequency right.


HBV Journal Review – October 2013

HBF is pleased to connect our blog readers to Christine Kukka’s monthly HBV Journal Review that she writes for the HBV Advocate. The journal presents the
latest in hepatitis B research, treatment, and prevention from recent academic and medical journals. This month, the following topics are explored:

  • Study Finds Only 21% of Hepatitis B Patients Are Treated Correctly
  • Combination of Chinese Herbs Plus Antiviral Entecavir Proves Effective
  • Caesarians Reduce Infection of Newborns When Mothers Have High Viral Loads
  • Combined Antiviral and Interferon Treatment Effective in Those Under Age 30
  • New Tenofovir Formula May Lead to Less Bone Loss and Kidney Problems
  • HBV Mutation Found Only in Men May Explain Their Higher Rates of Liver Damage
  • Sumo Wrestlers Found to Transmit HBV Infection
  • Taiwan’s Hepatitis B Immunization of Infants Reduces Hepatitis B by 90%
  • Tenofovir Reverses Severe, Decompensated Cirrhosis

HBV Journal Review
October 1, 2013
Volume 10, Issue 10
by Christine M. Kukka 

Study Finds Only 21% of Hepatitis B Patients Are Treated Correctly

A new study, examining how well San Francisco primary care providers care for their patients infected with the hepatitis B virus (HBV), finds most fail to screen them for liver cancer or regularly evaluate their viral load or hepatitis B “e” antigen (HBeAg) status, though medical guidelines require annual or semi-annual testing.

The study, published in the September 2013 issue of the journal Digestive Diseases and Sciences, surveyed doctors who provide care through a safety net program to many uninsured patients. They were asked how well they thought they followed current medical guidelines, and then patient medical records were analyzed to assess the true quality of care.

Of the 148 doctors surveyed, 79% claimed to follow medical guidelines and monitor patients’ liver health every 6 six 12 months. However, patient medical records covering the last 12 months showed substandard care.

  • • Only 75% of patients had their alanine aminotransferase (ALT) levels, which shows liver damage, tested in the past year.
  • • Only 51% had their viral load (HBV DNA) tested.
  • • Only 51% had been screened for liver cancer (either with an alpha fetoprotein test or some type of liver imaging). This test should be performed annually, and doctors are at risk of medical malpractice if they do not screen patients for cancer.
  • • HBeAg tests were performed in only 29% of patients.
  • • Only 32% of the hepatitis B patients had been immunized against hepatitis A, another guideline requirement, to protect them from another liver infection.

Bottom line, researchers found that only 21% of patients had been monitored properly in compliance with current hepatitis B guidelines. Forty-three percent of doctors were not familiar with medical guidelines for hepatitis B management and only 73% answered all questions about hepatitis B correctly.

There was also a racial bias regarding which HBV-infected patients were screened for hepatitis C and HIV. Doctors tended to test African-American and Latino patients for hepatitis C (48% and 44% respectively) at a higher rate than they tested whites and Asian-American patients (34% and 31%.)

The study suggests that fear of malpractice—more than knowledge of current practice guidelines—may drive doctors to perform the required liver cancer screenings each year. Also, the researchers suggest that hepatitis B public education initiatives, spearheaded by the San Francisco Hepatitis B Free Campaign, may have contributed to better monitoring of Asian-Americans because it raised awareness among the public and their providers.

“These findings highlight the importance of targeted provider education to improve overall care,” for hepatitis B, the researchers from the University of California, San Francisco, suggest.

Continue reading about this and additional HBV related studies

Join Hep B United, CDC DVH, HBF, AAPCHO and CDC NPIN for a Twitter Chat!

Mark you calendars! Join Hep B United,CDC Division of Viral Hepatitis , HBF, AAPCHO and CDC NPIN for a Twitter Chat on Tuesday, November 19th, 3pm EST to discuss the Know Hepatitis B campaign and what Hep B United, partners and coalition members are doing to raise awareness and increase hepatitis B testing and vaccination among Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs). Hepatitis B is the leading cause of liver cancer and a major health disparity among AAPIs who are disproportionately impacted by HBV. Continue reading "Join Hep B United, CDC DVH, HBF, AAPCHO and CDC NPIN for a Twitter Chat!"