As you may know, two years ago the Hepatitis B Foundation started our Hepatitis B Cure Campaign, to promote increased public-sector investment in hepatitis B and liver cancer research. We have made great progress and wanted to provide an update. Earlier this year, the HBF submitted House Labor-HHS report language, and HBF President Dr. Timothy Block met with the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) Deputy Director Dr. Lawrence Tabak, to urge the NIH to establish an inter-institute working group to coordinate NIH research focused on finding a cure for hepatitis B and liver cancer.
We are pleased to let you know that due to this outreach, the NIH is establishing a Trans-Institute Hepatitis B Working Group. This Working Group has been tasked with developing a Strategic Plan to Cure Hepatitis B, which Dr. Tabak stated should be a “huge boost” to the shared goal of finding a cure for hepatitis B. The formation of the group follows the NIH’s release in February 2019 of a Request for Information (RFI) that asked members of the research community to provide input on a strategic framework for the Working Group. The RFI suggested the Strategic Plan focus on three areas of research that are essential to developing a cure for hepatitis B:
- Understanding Hepatitis B Biology
- Developing Tools and Resources
- Developing Strategies to Cure Hepatitis B
NIH has reported that there was a very enthusiastic response to the RFI, and they are currently working to finalize an RFI Analysis Report and will include all the responses as an appendix. The report will help to guide the Working Group as they create their strategic elimination plan. Both the Trans-Institute Hepatitis B Cure Strategic Plan and the RFI Analysis Report will be made available to you in the coming months.
The Trans-Institute Hepatitis B Working Group is comprised of representatives from various Institutes within the NIH: the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), the National Cancer Institute (NCI), the National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), and the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD). NIAID has been asked to lead and coordinate the Working Group.
This is good news as we work towards finding a cure for hepatitis B. All increased investments help support and implement the goal to eliminate hepatitis B globally. Having new treatments, and especially a cure, will be critical to reach this goal. Seeing the increased interest among the NIH, as well as the nation’s hepatitis B experts and researchers, is an exciting step in the journey to find a cure.