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The time to cure hepatitis B is now

POSTED ON: 27 Jul, 2018

Nature Reviews Commentary lays groundwork for the momentum behind hepatitis B cure research and the long-term implementation of HBV cure preparedness worldwide.

On the eve of World Hepatitis Day, the International Coalition to Eliminate HBV (ICE-HBV), a global group of researchers, patient representatives and health organisations, has called for the integration of a hepatitis B (HBV) cure in global plans to eliminate viral hepatitis.

More than 290 million people worldwide are chronically infected with the HBV, a viral infection that attacks the liver and can cause both acute and chronic disease. Last year, nearly 900 000 people died from the disease.

A safe and effective vaccine to prevent HBV infection has been available since 1982 and its universal delivery is essential for the elimination of HBV as a public health threat. Lifelong treatment is also needed for those already chronically infected but currently is only accessed by some five per cent of the people who need it.

“Some 900 000 people dying unnecessarily of hepatitis B every year is completely unacceptable,” said Associate Professor Peter Revill, ICE-HBV Chair and Senior Medical Scientist in the Royal Melbourne Hospital’s Victorian Infectious Diseases Reference Laboratory at the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity (Doherty Institute).

“HBV cure research could make all the difference and prevent adverse outcomes in all people infected with HBV, allowing them to live treatment-free, fully productive lives and reduce the stigma associated with this chronic infection.”

Members of ICE-HBV stakeholders’ group argue in a commentary published today in Nature Reviews Gastroenterology and Hepatology that there is a need for appropriate cure research and preparedness to complement the World Health Organization´s global elimination strategy, the HBV vaccine and the well- tolerated but poorly accessed therapy.

“It is an ethical imperative that we rapidly scale-up diagnosis and treatment of these ‘missing millions’ and ensure that health systems engage them in order to provide equitable access to cure therapies once they become available,” said Dr Jeffrey Lazarus, an ICE-HBV member and head of the Health Systems Research Group at the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal) in Barcelona, Spain.

The current treatment regime helps keep HBV under control, but it is not a cure and must generally be taken for life. Even with ongoing treatment, people are still at a higher risk of developing liver cancer, particularly those with underlying cirrhosis due to chronic HBV. It raises issues of medication adherence and requires considerable investment for ongoing monitoring, adding to the challenges of achieving elimination.

Recent scientific progress and the momentum generated by the discovery of a cure for the hepatitis C virus (HCV) has created a sense of hope to find a cure for HBV. ICE-HBV is calling for increased investments in HBV cure research and cure preparedness to save the lives of the 290 million people living with chronic hepatitis B worldwide, most of whom are unaware of their infection.

ICE-HBV will launch a Global Scientific Strategy to Cure Hepatitis B immediately before the Liver Meeting® 2018 in San Francisco (8 November 2018).  The scientific strategy aims to guide and accelerate research efforts globally, to ensure that the objectives outlined by WHO are sustainably met.  ICE-HBV has already begun moving forward the most urgent research priorities such as developing reliable models and assays to study the impact of new curative treatments under development.

ICE-HBV strongly supports both the World Health Organization global health sector strategy on viral hepatitis and the World Hepatitis Alliance’s ‘Find the Missing Millions’ campaign. It urges a more universal health coverage approach to the hepatitis B response that has public health and research agencies go beyond the existing objectives and work together to discover and ensure access to curative treatment regimens for people living with HBV.

Pr Christian Bréchot becomes ICE-HBV Honorary President

POSTED ON: 25 Jul, 2018

We welcome Pr Christian Bréchot, President of the Global Virus Network, as next Honorary President for ICE-HBV.

We take this opportunity to warmly thank Pr Francis V. Chisari for his amazing leadership in developing ICE-HBV and its first global scientific strategy in 2016-2018 (to be released in November 2018, stay tuned). Pr Chisari will remain involved in the Coalition as Senior Advisor.

Read about Christian Bréchot here.



Update on HBV Cure at ILC 2018

POSTED ON: 30 May, 2018

While it would be inappropriate to promise that a cure will be available within a precise timeline, hope is strong and the scientific community – academic and industry alike – is clearly racing in that direction as shown during the International Liver Congress (ILC) in Paris in April 2018 . Currently, almost 50 new anti-HBV and HDV molecules are being openly developed, 16 of them are already undergoing phase II clinical trials. Among them, HBV entry and egress inhibitors, several formulations of RNA interfering/destabilizing agents, capsid assembly modulators (CAMs) and immune modulators.

Pre-clinical studies in animal models presented at the ILC 2018 indicate that the most promising strategies are based on the combination of different direct and indirect antiviral approaches. Indeed, inhibition of viral replication and antigen production seems to be necessary but not sufficient to avoid viral rebound at treatment cessation. In mice models of HBV replication, the combination of effective new direct antivirals (CAMs, siRNAs) with therapeutic vaccination followed by immune boosting gave promising results about the possibility of achieving a HBV “functional cure”, i.e. stable viral suppression and antigen clearance accompanied by the appearance of protective antibodies without viral rebound after therapy stopping. However, a specific effect on intrahepatic cccDNA pool has not yet been proved in these regimens and cccDNA targeting remains a crucial objective for future strategies.

HBV Pre-Clinical Studies Session at ILC 2018
The Hepatitis B Foundation Drug Watch

“All you ever wanted to know” about HBV at the NoHep Village – Global Hepatitis Summit in Toronto, June 16

POSTED ON: 17 May, 2018

ICE-HBV is partnering with CEVHAP and the Yellow Warriors Society to organise hepatitis B focused activities at the NoHep Village in Toronto. 

We want to engage researchers from all disciplines, heath care providers, people living with hepatitis B  and the local community, to encourage the meaningful participation of the community affected by hepatitis B in research to help ensure that research on hepatitis B  cure is made in partnership with people living with hepatitis B rather than for them, and that everyone involved is accurately informed about cure research and its potential outcomes. This would contribute to optimal cure preparedness, thus fostering the acceleration of the elimination of viral hepatitis.

On 16 June at 12:30 PM (free entry for everyone) for:

All you ever wanted to know about hepatitis B science but were afraid to ask. A scientific literacy workshop designed for the community and health care providers.


Slides can presented by Dr. Margaret Littlejohn can be found here.

ICE-HBV at ILC 2018

POSTED ON: 17 May, 2018

ICE-HBV had a booth at ILC 2018. This was a great opportunity to connect with clinical researchers from all over the world. An update on HBV cure research presented at EASL will be availaible soon.

ICE-HBV members met and adopted new governance rules and their 2018-2022 vision, to be released soon.

5th ANRS Workshop on HBV Cure and International Liver Congress

POSTED ON: 06 Mar, 2018

ICE-HBV is delighted to endorse the 5th ANRS workshop on HBV cure which will be held in Paris on 10 April 2018. The programme can be found here. 

We will have a booth at the International Liver Congress, please visit us during exhibition times on booth #822, just next to EASL community hub.

Experts will be there during morning breaks to present our work and answer your questions. See the programme:

Joan Block joins ICE-HBV Board

POSTED ON: 07 Nov, 2017

ICE-HBV is delighted to announce that Joan Block, Co-Founder of the Hepatitis B Foundation, is joining the Governing Board as first community representative.

More about Joan here.