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What You Need to Know About the 2022 Liver Meeting and How It Relates to Hepatitis Delta

 

 

 

 

This year, the annual Liver Meeting, hosted by the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD), was held in Washington, D.C. The featured presentations included new innovations in liver transplant surgery, disease modeling (which is a process that uses cells to show how a disease develops and to test possible treatment approaches), and drug development. While an effective, functional cure for hepatitis B virus (HBV) is still 5-10 years away, researchers, scientists, healthcare providers, and people with lived experience all came together and agreed that more needs to be done to reduce the burden of liver diseases and improve health outcomes now. One highlight of the meeting was Dr. Francis Collins, former director of the U.S. National Institutes of Health and special advisor to President Biden, hosting a special session to introduce a national hepatitis C elimination plan for the U.S. Unfortunately, this plan is focused on hepatitis C. As a response, the Hepatitis B Foundation will soon send an advocacy letter pushing for the inclusion of hepatitis B and hepatitis delta in this plan. Make sure you are signed up for our Action Center alerts to stay engaged with hepatitis B advocacy efforts.

Of particular note at this year’s meeting were the presence of many patient advocates and people with lived experience, and an increased focus on hepatitis delta. One important hepatitis delta poster presentation was delivered by Dr. Tatyana Kushner of Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, entitled “HDV Patient Perspective: The Impact of Disease and Current Unmet Needs.” By including the perspectives of people living with hepatitis delta virus (HDV), this study aimed to empower the patient community. Dr. Kushner and her colleagues collected data on people’s quality of life to identify unmet needs, barriers and gaps in HDV care (including disease management and access-to-care inequities).

The researchers found that a person’s care is affected in two ways: In the care they receive for their clinical diagnosis and their emotional journey after diagnosis. The participants’ experience of care was often negatively impacted by having a delayed HDV diagnosis, and limited access to specialized care and tolerable treatment options. Findings describe that the lack of specific and acceptable treatment options for hepatitis delta left people with little hope, which put an emotional burden on their life post-diagnosis. Due to the gaps in providers’ knowledge of HDV, participants held little trust in their healthcare providers. The study participants also shared that they suffered emotionally due to the stigma attached to their diagnosis.

Dr. Kushner and her colleagues call for an increased effort to educate healthcare providers on hepatitis delta, as their lack of HDV-specific knowledge drives health disparities or differences between groups, where one group is more burdened by a disease than the other. These are driven by unequal opportunities to achieve good health (CDC, 2020). Health disparities are preventable, and educating providers is the first step to overcoming these inequalities. Educating providers on HDV will lead to more rapid identification of the disease, as they will have a better understanding of the signs, symptoms and risk factors for hepatitis delta. Increasing advocacy efforts for point-of-care testing for both HBV and HDV in the U.S. will increase levels of testing and earlier identification of people at risk for the diseases. Timely diagnosis allows for people to be linked to specialty care earlier, ultimately improving health outcomes. Improving community awareness of HDV will combat stigma and likely reduce testing hesitancy, which can improve health outcomes. The researchers call for drug developers to meet the needs of the patient community by developing tolerable and hepatitis delta-specific treatments.

In terms of drug development, researchers presented on antiviral treatments for people living with HDV and discussed preferred outcomes of treatment, based on what they believed to be most helpful to each individual’s physical health. To understand these treatment considerations, it is important to review how HDV functions. Hepatitis delta virus (HDV) uses a person’s RNA (ribonucleic acid) to produce and replicate the virus, so high HDV RNA levels in the blood indicate severe infection, and low or undetectable HDV RNA levels indicate that the virus is not rapidly reproducing (Stephenson-Tsoris & Casey, 2022). A virological response is defined as a long-term period of low-level replication that leads to undetectable HDV RNA levels in the blood six months after stopping treatment, and this indicates viral suppression (Yamashiro et al., 2004). A biochemical response is defined as normalization of alanine aminotransferase (ALT) levels after antiviral treatment (Kim et al., 2022). When liver cells are damaged, they release ALT into the bloodstream, so high levels of ALT indicate that one’s liver is diseased or damaged (MedlinePlus, n.d.). ALT normalization is considered a good indicator that antiviral therapy is working because it means that there is less liver damage, liver disease is less severe, and people living with HBV/HDV are at less risk of harm (Kim et al., 2022).

One study of interest from the meeting was the D-LIVR study by Eiger BioPharmaceuticals, Inc.: Lonafarnib Global Study in Chronic Hepatitis Delta. This study consisted of 400 participants, who were all on treatment for 48 weeks, then followed up with researchers 24 weeks after treatment. In total, 50 participants received pegylated interferon (Peg IFN) treatment for 48 weeks; 125 participants received a combination of Lonafarnib, Ritonavir and Peg IFN; and 175 participants received the oral antiviral therapy Lonafarnib and Ritonavir. There were also 50 people on a placebo treatment. A placebo is a harmless pill that has no effect on a person, and is often used in clinical trials to test the effectiveness of a specific treatment being studied, in this case, Peg IFN, Lonafarnib and Ritonavir (Harvard Health Publishing, 2021). The researchers decided that they wanted to see a decline in HDV RNA (virologic response) and normalization of ALT (biochemical response) at week 48 as their study’s main outcome or proof that the treatment could work. In this study, an acceptable virologic response was defined as a “2log decline of HDV RNA levels,” which means they wanted to see HDV RNA levels decrease by 99% from the original levels that were measured before starting treatment (Wikipedia, n.d.).

Pegylated interferon (Peg IFN) is a protein-based medication that prompts the body to activate its natural immune system (induce innate antiviral response) (Zhang & Urban, 2021; Drugbank, n.d.). For Peg IFN-based treatments, researchers determine that undetectable HDV RNA six months after stopping treatment is desirable. However, researchers emphasize the importance of yearly HDV RNA post-treatment screening to monitor for viral relapses after treatment. For long-term treatment (over 48 weeks), a 99% reduction of HDV RNA concentration levels is an appropriate virologic response for non-interferon-based treatments, but more studies must be done to establish whether a person living with hepatitis delta is actually benefiting from the treatment (this is called clinical benefit). When establishing the clinical benefits for non-interferon-based treatments (or any new treatment), researchers can measure delays in disease progression or improvement of signs and symptoms of the disease, which includes symptom relief, improved functioning and improved survival rates (Lee, n.d).

Based on a variety of extensive studies (not just D-LIVR), the researchers decided to combine virologic and biochemical responses to try to demonstrate the clinical benefit of using ongoing antiviral treatment as a functional cure for hepatitis delta. They concluded that acceptable endpoints for HDV treatment studies include undetectable HDV RNA six months after stopping treatment, the loss of the hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg), and ALT normalization in people living with chronic hepatitis delta. This can also be considered a functional cure since there are undetectable levels of HBsAg and HDV RNA in the blood for a sustained period of time, even after finishing treatment (Wong et al., 2022).

While there is still time before we overcome the burden of hepatitis delta, the presentations from The Liver Meeting show us that researchers and scientists are constantly working to improve the lives of people living with hepatitis delta. Development toward a functional cure is progressing, and advocates are incorporating peoples’ lived experiences and perspectives into drug development and education. Collaboration between all these groups is the best way to move forward in the fight against hepatitis delta.

For more information on hepatitis delta, you can visit the Hepatitis Delta Connect website or review this hepatitis delta fact sheet.

References

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020). Health disparities. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Division of Adolescent and School Health, National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/disparities/index.htm 

Drugbank. (n.d.). Peginterferon alfa-2a. Drugbank. https://go.drugbank.com/drugs/DB00008

Harvard Health Publishing. (2021, December 13). The power of the placebo effect. Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School. https://www.health.harvard.edu/mental-health/the-power-of-the-placebo-effect 

Kau, A., Vermehren, J., & Sarrazin, C. (2008). Treatment predictors of a sustained virologic response in hepatitis B and C. Journal of Hepatology, 49(4), 634-651. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jhep.2008.07.013

Kim, S. H., Cho, E. J., Jang, B. O., Lee, K., Choi, J. K., Choi, G. H., Lee, J. H., Yu, S. J., Kim, Y. J., Lee, Y. B., Yoon, J. H., Kim, J. W., Jeong, S. H., & Jang, E. S. (2022). Comparison of biochemical response during antiviral treatment in patients with chronic hepatitis B infection. Liver International: Official Journal of the International Association for the Study of the Liver, 42(2), 320–329. https://doi.org/10.1111/liv.15086 

Lee, J. (n.d.). Defining Clinical Benefit in Clinical Trials: FDA Perspective [Presentation]. U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. https://celiac.org/main/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/great3-07.pdf 

MedlinePlus. (n.d.). ALT blood test. National Library of Medicine (U.S.). [updated August 3, 2022]. https://medlineplus.gov/lab-tests/alt-blood-test/ 

Raman, S. (2022 October 25). Administration eyes national hepatitis C treatment plan. Roll Call: Policy. https://rollcall.com/2022/10/25/administration-eyes-national-hepatitis-c-treatment-plan/ 

Stephenson-Tsoris, S., & Casey, J. L. (2022). Hepatitis delta virus genome RNA synthesis initiates at position 1646 with a nontemplated guanosine. Journal of Virology, 96(4), e0201721. https://doi.org/10.1128/JVI.02017-21 

Wikipedia. (n.d). Log reduction. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Log_reduction

Wong, G. L. H., Gane, E., & Lok, A. S. F. (2022). How to achieve functional cure of HBV: Stopping NUCs, adding interferon or new drug development?. Journal of Hepatology, 76(6), 1249–1262. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jhep.2021.11.024

Yamashiro, T., Nagayama, K., Enomoto, N., Watanabe, H., Miyagi, T., Nakasone, H., Sakugawa, H., & Watanabe, M. (2004). Quantitation of the level of hepatitis Delta virus RNA in serum, by real-time polymerase chain reaction—and its possible correlation with the clinical stage of liver disease. The Journal of Infectious Diseases, 189(7), 1151–1157. https://doi.org/10.1086/382133

Zhang, Z., & Urban, S. (2021). New insights into HDV persistence: The role of interferon response and implications for upcoming novel therapies. Journal of Hepatology, 74(3), P686-699. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jhep.2020.11.032

If You Have Hepatitis B, Donating Your Blood May Change the Face of Hepatitis B Testing.

The Hepatitis B Foundation has partnered with Plasma Services Group to educate people living with Hepatitis B about the critical need for blood donation. This is not like the local blood drives you always hear about. Instead, Plasma Services Group focuses on specialty plasma collection which supports the making of diagnostic tests used in labs around the world. The demand for HBV testing grows every year, but access to those tests is not assured. As you know, only 25% of people in the U.S. and 10% of people worldwide with Hepatitis B have been diagnosed. With your help, we can reduce those real-life barriers to Hepatitis B testing and improve lives. Follow the link.

How do I donate?

Donating your blood to Plasma Services Group is easy. After you complete this form, they will reach out to you if you are a good candidate for blood donation. If chosen, they will send a phlebotomist to your home to complete the blood-draw.  PSG compensates participants financially as a thank you for the trust, time and efforts associated with donation. This program is only available to U.S. residents who are preferably in the Northeast. You must be 18 years of age or older and weight 110 pounds or more. You must be living with chronic Hepatitis B, which means you have had Hepatitis B for over 6 months.

Why this is important to the future of Hepatitis B?

As you may know, access to good healthcare isn’t always easy. By creating new blood tests, we can help diagnose Hepatitis B more reliably which helps more people get into care and manage their hepatitis B. Your blood donation could directly impact the detection, care and quality of life for millions of people living with hepatitis B who have not been diagnosed yet, as well as those who are managing their care on a daily basis.

Despite the large population of people living with hepatitis B, it is hard for companies that source biological raw materials to recruit donors. Most people are unaware of the large amount of blood plasmas that are essential to manufacture test kits. Rarer subtypes that are prevalent in Africa and Asia, where the need for detection is the highest and growing the fastest, are even harder to find in N. America. By becoming a regular donor to Plasma Services Group, you are filling a vital role for the medical diagnostic industry and helping to close the gap between patient and care.

Get started today!

Fill out this form and Plasma Services Group will fill you in on next steps.

Reactivation with Hepatitis B: Understanding Risk Factors and Prevention Strategies

Understanding the hepatitis B virus and the panel of blood tests needed to determine infection or immunity can be a stressful and challenging task. In simplest terms, “hepatitis” means liver inflammation and the hepatitis B virus can ultimately cause liver inflammation. The liver is an important organ in the human body and responsible for the removal of toxins and regulation of digestion (learn more about the function of the liver here). The hepatitis B virus can infect and disrupt critical functions of the liver in supporting your overall health. 

How the hepatitis B virus works 

In the case of the hepatitis B virus, the host is the liver cell. As the virus makes more copies of itself, the liver may become damaged, and sometimes it is unable to carry out its essential tasks to regulate metabolism, nutrients, and digestion. It is best to prevent hepatitis B infections when we can – and since antibodies are the best defense against the virus, the hepatitis B vaccine can be used to signals the body to make antibodies to fight the virus. The hepatitis B vaccine provides lifelong protection from the virus. However, this is only possible before infection with the virus. If somebody is already infected with the virus, antiviral therapy is used to control the virus and prevent liver damage – antiviral medications disrupt the life cycle of the virus by disabling viral receptors from binding to liver cells. 

Blood test panel to diagnose hepatitis B: 

The only way to tell someone’s hepatitis B status is through a panel of blood tests – the tests are all done at one time, and only one small tube of blood is needed. These tests are not included in routine testing, so it is important to ask your doctor to test you for hepatitis B or try to find a free screening event near you (http://www.hepbunited.org/). The panel consists of the following tests to determine your hepatitis B status: 

  1. HBsAg: 
    • This tests for the hepatitis B surface antigen in someone’s blood. The surface antigen is the protein that surrounds the virus and protects it from attack by the host. A positive surface antigen test indicates that the virus is present in the body. A “positive” or “reactive” result for HBsAg indicates that someone is infected with hepatitis B and can transmit the virus to others.  
  1. HBsAb 
    • This tests for the hepatitis B surface antibody in someone’s blood. The surface antibodies are produced by the immune system and can fight off the virus by attaching to the surface antigen protein. This test can detect the presence of these antibodies. Ideally this test will be ordered quantitatively (numerically). A “positive” surface antibody test (meaning numbers reading >10 IU/mL) means that a person has protection against the hepatitis B virus (either by vaccine or from a past exposure).  
  1. HBcAb (total) 
    • This is known as the hepatitis B core antibody test. The core antibody is produced by the immune system after infection with the virus. This test indicates an existing or past infection of the hepatitis B virus.  

 

To learn more about interpreting your test results, click here. 

Important things to know about Hepatitis B Core Antibody (HBcAb) 

Someone who has markers of past infection, particularly hepatitis B core antibody, can be at risk for hepatitis B reactivation. Reactivation can be triggered by immunosuppressive therapies and cause significant life-threatening challenges. If you test HBcAb+, please talk to your doctor about what that means, and make sure you notify all future health care providers. 

How is reactivation with HBV defined? 

Reactivation is defined as the sudden increase or reappearance of HBV (hepatitis B virus) DNA. When the virus invades the cell, it forms a covalently closed circular DNA (cccDNA) in the nucleus of infected cells referred to as hepatocytes. Because cccDNA is resistant to antiviral treatments, it is never removed from the cells. Therefore, even after recovery from a past infection, the cccDNA is present and may reactivate. It is not clearly understood why this may happen, but certain factors may increase the risk for reactivation.  

To learn more about the core, click here. 

What puts one at risk for reactivation? 

  1. Virologic factors such as high baseline HBV DNA, hepatitis B envelope antigen positivity (HBeAg), and chronic hepatitis B infection that persists for more than 6 months.
    • Detectable HBV DNA levels and detectable levels of HBsAG can increase the risk for HBRr (reactivation) 
    • Testing positive for HBeAg also increases the risk for reactivation 
  2. Co-infection with other viruses such as hepatitis C or hepatitis Delta 
  3. Older age 
  4. Male sex 
  5. Cirrhosis 
  6. An underlying condition requiring immunosuppressive therapies (rheumatoid arthritis, lymphoma, or solid tumors) 
    • Certain medications can increase the likelihood of reactivation by more than 10%.  
    • B-cell depleting agents such as rituximab, ofatumumab, doxorubicin, epirubicin, moderate or high-dose corticosteroid therapy lasting more than 4 weeks. 

How to prevent reactivation of hepatitis B 

Hepatitis B reactivation is a serious condition that can lead to health complications, Reactivation is avoidable if at-risk individuals are identified through screening. Current guidelines recommend that individuals at the highest risk (those receiving B-cell depleting therapies and cytotoxic regimens) should receive antiviral therapies as prophylaxis before beginning immunosuppressive therapy. These antiviral therapies should also be continued well beyond stopping the immunosuppressive therapies. Be sure to talk to your doctor to be sure you are not at risk for reactivation.  

References 

Hepatitis b virus reactivation: Risk factors and current management strategies.

Reactivation of hepatitis B virus: A review of Clinical Guidelines.

https://aasldpubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/cld.883

https://www.hepb.org/prevention-and-diagnosis/diagnosis/understanding-your-test-results/

Results from Hepatitis Delta Clinical Trials Announced at International Liver Congress 2022

London, UK was the host city for this year’s annual International Liver Congress (ILC), the yearly meeting of the European Association for the Study of the Liver (EASL), which took place from June 22nd-26th. This meeting provides an opportunity for those working to address liver diseases around the world to gather in one location and exchange ideas, present research, and work to advance diagnosis, prevention, treatment, and elimination of these serious conditions. This year’s meeting saw significant attention given to hepatitis delta, as new treatments continue to move through the pipeline and more widespread approval for prescription of current treatments is sought. Below is a quick snapshot of some of the presentations!

The US-based pharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences, Inc. demonstrated with results from a Phase 3 clinical trial that treatment with Hepcludex (bulevirtide), the first medication ever approved for hepatitis delta (HDV), has been shown to achieve significant response in chronic HDV. After 48 weeks, 48% of study participants who received different doses of treatment with Hepcludex achieved virological response (meaning a decline in hepatitis delta viral load, ALT normalization, and a change in liver stiffness), compared to only 2% of those who had not received any treatment. When compared to results from clinical trials after 24 weeks, response rates to HDV only improved, showing the drug to be even more effective over time. Throughout the clinical trials, there have been no adverse events reported that are attributable to this treatment.

Hepcludex has also been found to have a positive impact on the quality of life of individuals living with hepatitis delta, and their overall ability to manage the condition. There were improvements found in health distress, performance of daily activities related to hepatitis, emotional impact of hepatitis, and ability to work. This data reinforces the efficacy and safety of Hepcludex and hopefully strengthens the case for approving the drug in more parts of the world.

“As the most severe form of viral hepatitis, HDV presents a significant disease burden with high healthcare-related costs and until recently, no approved treatment options,” said Heiner Wedemeyer, MD, Director, Clinic for Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Endocrinology at Hannover Medical School, and principal investigator of the study. “These results presented at ILC 2022 not only highlight the important clinical role that bulevirtide has to play as a safe and effective treatment option for chronic HDV, but critically also demonstrate that with prolonged treatment, we can achieve higher response rates so we can better manage this rare, life-threatening disease in more people.”

Presently, Hepcludex has been conditionally approved by the European Commission for prescription in France, Germany, and Austria. It has not yet been approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or in other countries. A Biologics License Application was submitted by Gilead to the FDA in late 2021 for injection of 2mg of Hepcludex to treat adults with HDV and compensated liver disease. Hepcludex had previously been granted Breakthrough Therapy and Orphan Drug designations by the FDA and PRIority MEdicines (PRIME) scheme eligibility by the European Medicines Agency (EMA).

The second company to present their research findings at the ILC was US-based Eiger BioPharmaceuticals, Inc. The two primary hepatitis delta drugs that they have in the pipeline are called lonafarnib and peginterferon lambda. One abstract presentation indicated that peginterferon lambda (lambda) had better antiviral activity and tolerability than peginterferon alfa (the previous version of this drug that has been used as the only somewhat effective, but off-label treatment for hepatitis delta since the early 1980s). Lambda has been shown to block production of new hepatitis delta virus very effectively. Additionally, lambda in combination with lonafarnib was found to lower levels of HDV RNA and decrease its production and release, more effectively than lambda by itself. Patterns in HBV DNA, hepatitis B surface antigen, and ALT were also observed as part of this study. In its Phase 3 D-LIVR study, which is assessing the safety and efficacy of lonafarnib in combination with ritonavir, with and without peginterferon alfa, Eiger has assembled the largest cohort of global participants in an HDV study, and therefore the largest body of data. Results from this study are anticipated by the end of 2022.

The final piece of big hepatitis delta news to come out of the conference was the announcement from Vir Biotechnology Inc. that they are beginning a Phase 2 clinical trial for VIR-2218 in combination with VIR-3434 for the treatment of chronic hepatitis delta. Initial data from this study is anticipated in 2023.

Hepatitis delta is now receiving more attention than ever before and there is only more hope as new treatments are created, investigated, approved, and made available. For a complete overview of hepatitis delta, including basic information, resources, clinical trial opportunities, and a complete list of drugs that are in the pipeline, visit www.hepdconnect.org.

References

https://www.gilead.com/news-and-press/press-room/press-releases/2022/6/treatment-with-hepcludex-bulevirtide-meets-primary-endpoint-and-achieves-significant-response-in-chronic-hepatitis-delta-virus-at-48-weeks

https://www.streetinsider.com/Corporate+News/Vir+Biotechnology+Inc.+%28VIR%29+Announces+New+Clinical+Data+From+its+Broad+Hepatitis+B+Program/20256465.html

https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/eiger-biopharmaceuticals-announces-results-from-multiple-presentations-at-the-european-association-for-the-study-of-the-liver-easl-international-liver-congress-2022-301576119.html

Eiger Presents Clinical Trial Results at The Liver Meeting Digital Experience™ 2020

By Beatrice Zovich

The 2020 meeting of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD) in November offered the opportunity for scientists from industry and academia to present their findings from clinical trials, studying new medications for hepatitis B and D. Two such presentations were given by Eiger BioPharmaceuticals, Inc. who presented their findings about how well their medications peginterferon lambda and lonafarnib work, both independently and in combination, to treat hepatitis delta virus (HDV) and halt liver fibrosis. The results are promising and offer hope for those affected by HDV.

The two medicines under investigation in these studies work in different ways. Lonafarnib works by blocking farnesyl transferase, an enzyme involved in prenylation, the modification of proteins that is necessary for the life cycle of HDV. Peginterferon lambda, on the other hand, triggers immune responses that are crucial for host protection during viral infections. Lambda can also target liver cells accurately, thus reducing the effects of inadvertently targeting central nervous system cells and making it more tolerable to those taking it (Eiger, 2020).

Eiger’s first study examined how well peginterferon lambda and lonafarnib (known as LIFT – Lambda InterFeron combo Therapy) work together to lower levels of HDV RNA, 24 weeks post-treatment (Eiger, 2020). This was a Phase 2 study. Lambda was administered at a dosage of 180 mcg once weekly, in combination with 50 mg of Lonafarnib and 100 mg of ritonavir given twice daily, for 24 weeks. The results of this study found that 77% of the 26 participants saw their HDV RNA levels decline and reach a level that was either undetectable or below the level of quantification. 23% of these participants were able to maintain these levels for 24 weeks after treatment had ended. Both tenofovir and entecavir were started prior to treatment for management of HBV. The observed side effects of this regimen were mild to moderate and included mostly gastrointestinal issues or were related to blood chemistry (Eiger, 2020).

The second study found that peginterferon lambda caused the regression of liver fibrosis after 48 weeks of treatment in people living with hepatitis delta. Two case studies emerged from the completed Phase 2 LIMT (Lambda Interferon MonoTherapy) study (Eiger, 2020). In these studies, a total of 33 participants received either 180 µg or 120 µg of lambda subcutaneous injections weekly for 48 weeks. Results indicated that degrees of liver fibrosis and levels of HDV RNA declined below the level of quantification in some participants, even after 72 weeks in a handful of cases. In some instances, ALT levels decreased as well. Side effects were found to be mild to moderate and fewer than those experienced by participants who had taken peginterferon alpha in the past. Side effects were primarily flu-like in nature (Eiger, 2020). 

Therapies for hepatitis B and D will only continue to improve and become more precise and targeted as time goes by. Check out the Hepatitis Delta Connect website for detailed information on HDV, as well as current clinical trials and a drug watch page, both of which are updated regularly. (A brand-new clinical trial has just been added!) For more information about Eiger BioPharmaceuticals, click here

References

Eiger BioPharmaceuticals, Inc. (2020, November 17). Eiger Announces Positive Peginterferon Lambda – Lonafarnib Combination End of Study Results from Phase 2 LIFT HDV Study in Late-Breaker Session at The Liver Meeting Digital Experience™ 2020. Retrieved December 30, 2020, from https://www.biospace.com/article/releases/eiger-announces-positive-peginterferon-lambda-lonafarnib-combination-end-of-study-results-from-phase-2-lift-hdv-study-in-late-breaker-session-at-the-liver-meeting-digital-experience-2020/

Eiger BioPharmaceuticals, I. (2020, November 16). Eiger Announces Case Studies Demonstrating Regression of Liver Fibrosis Following 48 Weeks of Therapy with Peginterferon Lambda in Patients with Chronic Hepatitis Delta Virus (HDV) Infection Presented at The Liver Meeting Digital Experience™ 2020. Retrieved December 30, 2020, from https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/eiger-announces-case-studies-demonstrating-regression-of-liver-fibrosis-following-48-weeks-of-therapy-with-peginterferon-lambda-in-patients-with-chronic-hepatitis-delta-virus-hdv-infection-presented-at-the-liver-meeting-digital–301173992.html 

Eighth Annual Hep B United Summit a Success!

Hep B United is very pleased to report that the eighth annual (and first virtual) Hep B United Summit was a great success! With over 200 attendees from around the US, the summit brought together partners – both new and familiar – to discuss and collaborate on the successes and challenges of the past year, and strategies to move forward toward the elimination of hepatitis B.  

The theme of this year’s summit was “Standing Up for Hepatitis B: Creative Collaborations to Amplify Awareness, Access, and Equity.” The event included many exciting sessions on topics such as progress toward a hepatitis B cure; strategies for providing hepatitis B services in the time of COVID-19; federal updates on hepatitis B; methods for incorporating hepatitis B into viral hepatitis elimination planning efforts at state and local levels; the path to universal adult hepatitis B vaccination; expansion of hepatitis B outreach in non-traditional settings, such as pharmacies, harm reduction centers, and correctional facilities; the pandemic of structural racism and how to bridge gaps in healthcare; and elevating the patient voice to move elimination efforts forward. The event included a poster session with over 20 submissions from presenters around the country, ranging from medical students to organizational partners, and covering a diverse and comprehensive array of topics related to hepatitis B. 

The virtual platform offered a dynamic and engaging experience, with opportunities for networking, game participation, social media involvement, and learning. The Summit concluded with an award ceremony in which nine Hepatitis B Champions and a Federal Champion were honored for their efforts and dedication to hepatitis B advocacy, awareness, prevention, and elimination efforts over the past year. 

 As in previous years, the Summit provided an opportunity for colleagues to gather and to exchange innovative and creative ideas that will help to advance hepatitis B elimination and elevate hepatitis B as an issue deserving of widespread national attention. Recordings of the Summit are available on Hep B United’s YouTube channel – check them out today!

All of Us Research Program

Medicine is not one size fits all. Changing that idea takes All of Us. 

Why is it that an African American woman in her thirties living in a large city tends to receive the same medical care as a man in his sixties of European descent who lives on a farm in rural America, who in turn receives the same treatment as a Korean American mother of two in her forties living in a midwestern suburb? Each of these people has different ancestry, lifestyle, environment, socioeconomic status, and genetics, all of which have a major impact on health. Why should these factors not impact healthcare as well?

The All of Us Research Program, an initiative of the National Institutes of Health, is working to change that. The goal of the program is to diversify the pool of available biomedical data, so that researchers can study many different people and groups, and doctors in turn can then make much more informed decisions about prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of various conditions, that are much more tailored to individual people and to specific groups of people, a practice known as precision medicine. For far too long, doctors have been using data from and information about “the average person” (typically a white man) to make decisions and provide care to everyone in the extraordinarily diverse population of the United States. Now there is a great opportunity for all of us to come together to help them change that! 

The overall objective of the project is to recruit one million or more participants and to follow them over ten years.The Hepatitis B Foundation, in partnership with Hep Free Haw aii and the Asian Engagement and Recruitment Core (ARC), is working to spread the word about the All of Us Research Program to everyone, but particularly among Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander communities, who are under-represented in this area, historically and currently. 

Why should I participate?

This is an important chance to learn about your own health, including risk factors and exposures.  This is also a great opportunity to help fight diseases, start to close the gaps in a healthcare system that currently does not provide all Americans with the same high quality of healthcare, and more quickly find solutions to serious healthcare problems. Examples of some questions you could help answer are: “How can we prevent the chronic pain that affects more than 100 million people across the US each year? How can we develop cancer treatments that will work the first time, so that we can skip painful trial-and-error chemotherapy? Why does the heart medication Plavix have a much lower success rate among Asian Americans than those of European descent? What would be a more appropriate treatment?” The answers to these questions can be found by gathering more data and more insights from more people. People like you! You have the power to change the course of healthcare for yourself, your community, and future generations.

How Can I Get Involved?

Getting involved is quick and easy! The steps to follow are:

  • Visit www.joinallofus.org to learn more, enroll, and provide consent for the sharing of your electronic health record, where all of your medical information is digitally stored. 
  • Complete a series of surveys that will ask for information about your lifestyle, environment, family history, and background.
  • Provide health measurements like height, weight, waist circumference, and heart rate, among others. 
  • Provide biosamples of blood, urine, and saliva. 
  • Start using apps and technology to track your behaviors and routine activities, starting with a FitBit and including others down the road that are still under development. 

You will receive help and guidance at each stage in the process. 

What about my privacy?

Glad you asked! Any data that you provide will be highly secure and protected. Data security for this project has been built by experts with input from the public. All data is encrypted with identifying information removed, and guaranteed by a Certificate of Confidentiality. Researchers must also agree to a Code of Conduct before accessing the data. You will have access to any and all of your data at any time throughout the program and the highest standard of transparency is practiced. 

What if I don’t want to continue?

You are in control. You can stop your participation at any time. If you have already provided data and no longer want it to be used, you can simply let All of Us know and your data will be destroyed. 

Partners in the Process

All of Us is not a project where researchers know all of the answers and are just mining participants for data. Choosing to participate in All of Us means that you are a partner in the research process. Your thoughts and insights are valuable and you will play a direct role in shaping healthcare for yourself and your community both now and in the future – not just with your data, but as an active participant in the research process, including in the proposal and guidance of future research. 

The All of Us Research Program aims to serve people better, to be more inclusive in biomedical research, to find healthcare solutions that are realistic for and meaningful to more people, and to work toward research and medical breakthroughs that are more reflective of the diversity of the United States. Take the next step to make sure we are Invisible No Longer. Visit www.joinallofus.org to get started today!