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First World Hepatitis Summit Focuses on Global Plan for Elimination by 2030

The joint North and South Americas group build relationships across borders to eradicate hepatitis B.
The North and South Americas group builds relationships to eradicate viral hepatitis.

The mood was euphoric. It was a love fest, actually. Last week, more than 600 policy makers, public health experts, and representatives from non-governmental organizations and patient advocacy groups from 80 countries were invited to participate in the first World Hepatitis Summit in Scotland hosted by the World Hepatitis Alliance in partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO). The Hepatitis B Foundation was pleased to be invited and to speak during the pre-summit meeting as well.

The message was serious. Hepatitis B and C kill more people each year than HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis, and combined are the seventh-leading cause of death worldwide, yet viral hepatitis as a global health concern remains mostly invisible and under-funded. Continue reading "First World Hepatitis Summit Focuses on Global Plan for Elimination by 2030"

Growing Older with Hepatitis B: Why Testing for Liver Damage Still Matters

Image courtesy of Witthaya Phonsawat at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of Witthaya Phonsawat at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Around the world, older adults bear the greatest burden of hepatitis B. Born before the childhood vaccination became available, about 4.7 percent of U.S. adults over age 50 have been infected and their chronic hepatitis B rate is nearly two-fold higher than in younger adults.

The 50-plus generation has lived with with chronic hepatitis B for decades, and over time their risk of liver damage, cirrhosis, and cancer has steadily increased. That is why it is very important that older adults living with this infection see their physicians regularly and have tests for liver damage and cancer performed as needed. Continue reading "Growing Older with Hepatitis B: Why Testing for Liver Damage Still Matters"

Celebrate World Hepatitis Day By Making Hepatitis B History

Joan M. Block, Co-Founder and Executive Director
Joan M. Block, Co-Founder and Executive Director

By Joan M. Block, RN, BSN
Executive Director and Co-Founder, Hepatitis B Foundation

Tuesday, July 28, is World Hepatitis Day, which commemorates the birthday of Dr. Baruch S. Blumberg, who won the Nobel Prize in Medicine for identifying the hepatitis B virus and developing a vaccine to prevent it. This year also marks the 50th anniversary of the discovery of the hepatitis B virus – a discovery that has literally saved hundreds of millions of lives.
Continue reading "Celebrate World Hepatitis Day By Making Hepatitis B History"

Join Hep B United and Watch the Hep B Summit Online!

hepb-united-btnThe Hep B United Summit in Washington D.C., starting Sunday afternoon and running through Monday, July 26 and 27, can be viewed LIVE and in real time on Periscope. Plus, you can follow the conversation on Twitter with #HepBSummit! Continue reading "Join Hep B United and Watch the Hep B Summit Online!"

Know Your Rights: What College Students with Hep B Need to Know About Health Forms and Disclosure

Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.
Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

This summer, students living with hepatitis B face a task that can be as stressful as SATs, entrance exams or writing college essays – completing their colleges’ health forms.

Some colleges and graduate schools require no medical information while others expect you to document in detail your allergies, immunizations, medical history and even undergo TB testing.

The good news is colleges want to make sure all students are vaccinated against hepatitis B, the bad news is the requirement can force students to disclose their hepatitis B infection. Here are some important things parents and students should know when filling out college health forms.

No school can deny you admission or treat you differently because you have hepatitis B. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination based on disabilities, and that includes hepatitis B.

Continue reading "Know Your Rights: What College Students with Hep B Need to Know About Health Forms and Disclosure"

Research at the HBF’s Baruch S. Blumberg Institute

hbvvirus

Hepatitis C is now declared curable. Hepatitis B is still not, despite having been discovered nearly 50 years ago. An interview with Dr. Timothy Block of  the Hepatitis B Foundation and the Baruch S. Blumberg Institute. The future does look bright…

Perhaps this should not be a surprise, thinks Timothy Block, PhD, president and co-founder of the Hepatitis B Foundation (HBF) and its research arm, the Baruch S. Blumberg Institute. According to Block,there are two main reasons for the “cure deficit” between hepatitis B and C — funding and physiology.

He points out that commercial and federal investment in hepatitis C have been far greater than in hepatitis B. And that has clearly paid off in terms of finding a hepatitis C cure. “You get what you pay for,” he observes.

Physiologically, hepatitis B also presents unique challenges not found with hepatitis C — most notably cccDNA (or covalently closed circular DNA), the “mini- chromosome” produced by the hepatitis B virus. The cccDNA persists in the nucleus of the liver cell, where it can hide amidst the host’s own chromosomes, apparently out of reach of the cell’s own defense systems.

Acting like “an indestructible template,” cccDNA continues to produce virus particles throughout the life of the infected liver cell, even in people being treated with antiviral agents.

Hepatitis C, on the other hand, doesn’t enter the cell’s nucleus, so it’s possible to cure a person by stopping this virus from replicating long enough for the liver cells to regenerate.

But remember that people who have been “cured” of hepatitis C can still get re-infected,” Block cautions. The hepatitis C drugs apparently do not trigger an immune response that protects against re-infection.

In contrast, some people can be cured of hepatitis B, either naturally or through drug therapy. These individuals do seem to have long-term protective immunity. “And that’s what we are aiming for,” he declares.

Why We Need a Cure for Hepatitis B 

It can be argued that the approved antiviral agents are very successful in keeping the virus under control. So do we really need a cure? Definitely yes, Block replies emphatically.

Current antiviral drugs are effective, but need to be taken lifelong and are recommended for use in only about half of the infected population. And even after 10 years of use, the antivirals reduce HBV-related diseases by only about 50 to 60 percent. The drugs can also lead to the development of resistant hepatitis B strains (drug resistance).

For those who benefit from treatment, the antiviral drugs have been transformational and prove that medical intervention can be effective. However, there are millions who do not benefit and are still left vulnerable.

Clearly, new approaches to a “functional cure” are needed, which Block defines as “returning the risk of death due to hepatitis B to the level of someone who has a resolved infection.” And the person should not need to take any drugs to stay at this low-risk level.

Targeted Strategy for a Cure

The HBF/Blumberg Institute scientists, with their research partners from Drexel University College of Medicine, both located in the HBF’s Pennsylvania Biotechnology Center, are developing two types of therapies: direct-acting antivirals and innate host defense activators. The first type inhibits virus-host interactions and viral gene products; the second recruits the host’s immune system to attack and eliminate cccDNA and infected liver cells.

For each of these approaches, the researchers have identified key steps to target in the hepatitis B infection cycle, from virus entry into the liver cell, to cccDNA replication, to formation of virus particles.

For many of these steps, “Our scientists have developed assays that can be used to screen for new drugs. We are a recognized leader in designing and developing these assays and, for a time, had the only cccDNA- dependent cell lines,” notes Block. Almost 100 different cell lines for assays have been developed that can be used to screen for drugs that activate the innate host defense pathways.

For drug screening, cell lines are incubated with potential drug candidates from the Foundation’s own library of almost 90,000 compounds and the natural products collection that it received as a donation from Merck & Co. in 2011.

The strategic goal is to discover new drugs that complement existing therapies, but also enable the immune system to provide long-lasting antiviral protection, even when the person is no longer on drug therapy.

Several compounds in development already show some effectiveness in animal models. “We have a capsid inhibitor, a pregenomic RNA capsid inhibitor (JT Guo), an HBsAg inhibitor (A Cuconati), a cccDNA repressor (H Guo, A Cuconati, JT Guo), and an activator of innate host defense pathways (J Chang and JT Guo),” Block reports.

He is particularly excited about their stimulator of interferon genes (STING) agonist, which was very effective in mouse models. The research group is now working on a human STING agonist, although an appropriate assay for this compound still needs to be developed.

What the Future Holds 

“The Hepatitis B Foundation and its Blumberg Institute have contributed
to some of the most important work in studying the phases of the virus lifecycle that has led to the currently available drugs. Our researchers continue to be at the forefront in developing a promising pipeline for hepatitis B drug discovery,” says Block.

“I am absolutely confident that a cure is possible” he asserts. “After all, enough people with hepatitis B resolve their infections, either medically or spontaneously — even some people with chronic infections. So we know it’s possible.”

 

 

The World’s Second Deadliest Cancer Is …Preventable

bandages

Liver cancer is the world’s second leading cause of cancer deaths, according to the latest World Cancer Report 2014 released by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which is the specialized cancer agency of the World Health Organization (WHO). About 800,000 deaths per year are related to liver cancer. Continue reading "The World’s Second Deadliest Cancer Is …Preventable"

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!"

Purchase a Raffle ticket to Benefit the Hepatitis B Foundation and WIN a 7-Day Cruise for Two!

Raffle to Benefit the Hepatitis B Foundation

Friday, April 27th at 6:30 pm the Hepatitis B Foundation  is hosting it’s signature fund raising event of the year at the PineCrest Country Club in Landsdale, Pennsylvania. It will be a wonderful evening filled with fine dining, dancing, and a silent and live auction. On that evening HBF is proud to honor Dr. Howard Koh, the Assistant Secretary for the United Sates Health and Human Services (HHS), with the inaugural Baruch S. Blumberg Prize for his leadership in creating the first HHS Action Plan for Viral Hepatitis.

We know not everyone can make it to Landsdale on the evening of April 27th, but we do hope you will show your support and purchase a raffle ticket to benefit the Hepatitis B Foundation and possibly WIN a 7 day, 5-star cruise for 2! The good news is that you do not need to be present to win. Check out the details about the cruise….

7 DAY CRUISE FOR TWO!!

Holland America Line Logo

Choice of Destination:

Alaska, the Caribbean, Mexico

or Canada/New England

$100 per Raffle Ticket

Valued up to $3,300!!

Drawing at CRYSTAL BALL, April 27, 2012

(Winner does not need to be present)

 

 

When you step aboard one of the five-star ships of Holland America Line, you will experience a voyage unlike any other. You can choose any cruise for two (same stateroom) up to seven days in length (based on minimum ocean view stateroom) to Alaska, the Caribbean, Mexico or Canada/New England.

Your journey will include extraordinary dining, spacious staterooms, elegant surroundings and days filled with new discoveries and gracious pampering by an award-wining crew. You can choose to partake in as many – or as few – activities as you wish, from the renowned Greenhouse Spa and Salon, to cooking demonstrations and wine tasting in the Culinary Arts Center, and much more. Or simply relax and enjoy the spectacular scenery from the beautiful wrap-around teak deck.

The certificate has no expiration date. The certificate may be applied to other cabin categories or cruise trades at an additional cost. This cruise! certificate is valued up to $3,300!

Travel to and from arrival ports, taxes, onboard charges, shore excursions and hotel services are not included. Click here for important cruise information.

Donate Your Car to Support the Hepatitis B Foundation

Are you thinking of selling or trading in a vehicle?  Donate it to the Hepatitis B Foundation instead. Turn your car, running or not, into a tax-deductible contribution and help find a cure and improve the quality of life for those affected by hepatitis B worldwide. 

The Hepatitis B Foundation works with a full-service partner that will make all the arrangements to conveniently and quickly pick-up your vehicle donation at no cost to you. They handle the pick-up, the title transfer requirements, and sale of the vehicle.

If you complete your vehicle donation before October 31, you may receive a $25 gas gift card by filling out an online survey on the Donation Line website, or call 877-227-7487, extension 2815.  Need more information? View our most frequently asked questions below or contact Fern Sanford at fern.sanford@hepb.org or 215-489-4916.

 

FAQs

What can I donate?
We accept most cars, vans, trucks, trailers, motorcycles, boats, jet skis, snowmobiles, RVs and even airplanes!

Is my donation tax deductible?
The Hepatitis B Foundation is recognized by the IRS as a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) charitable organization and your donation is tax-deductible to the full extent of the law.  To benefit from this tax-deduction, you must itemize your taxes. 

What do I need to provide?
Besides the car, we would like the title to the vehicle. If you do not have it, call us anyway. It is possible that other arrangements may be made.

My car hasn’t run in years. Can I still donate it?
Yes, most vehicles are accepted, running or not (exceptions include older vehicles whose value would not offset the cost of towing).

Can you pick up vehicles in all 50 states?
It is possible to pick up most vehicles in the continental U.S. and Hawaii.

How will the car be picked up?
Arrangements will be made to have your vehicle towed away at a scheduled time.

How long will it take to pick up my car?
Someone will contact you to schedule an appointment within three or four business days at the most.

To donate your car, click here, and follow the instructions

Thank you!