On 29 July 2021 for World Hepatitis Day ICE HBV, together with Coalition to Eradicate Viral Hepatitis in Asia Pacific (CEVHAP) and Yellow Warriors Society Philippines, Inc. (YWSP), co-hosted the webinar Finding a Cure for Hepatitis B: Asia-Pacific Regional Webinar. An event aimed discussing the latest research in HBV Cure and surrounding topics with people living with HBV and their community.
Speakers were Dee Lee, Inno Community Development Organisation, China, Lien Tran, Doherty Institute Melbourne, Margaret Hellard, Burnet Institute, Melbourne, and Seng Gee Lim, National University Health System, Singapore.
You can watch recordings of the webinars here:
Seng Gee Lim (NUS Singapore) on HBV Science for the Community
Margaret Hellard (Burnet Institute) on Hepatitis B Health Care Access in Asia Pacific
Remarks From Lived Experience – Hepatitis B Community Webinar Asia Pacific
HBV Functional Cure Q&As: For Hepatitis B what does functional cure mean?
Abstract Background & Aims
We aim to capture the economic impact of a potential cure for chronic hepatitis B infection (CHB) in three countries (USA, China and Australia) with different health systems and epidemics to estimate the threshold drug prices below which a CHB cure would be cost-saving and/or highly cost-effective.
We simulated patients’ hepatitis B progression, under three scenarios: current long-term suppressive antiviral therapy, functional cure defined as sustained undetectable HBsAg and HBV DNA, and partial cure defined as sustained undetectable HBV DNA only after a finite, 48-week treatment.
Compared with current long-term antiviral therapy, a 30% effective functional cure among patients with and without cirrhosis in the USA, China and Australia would yield 17.50, 17.32 and 20.42 QALYs per patient, and 20.61, 20.42 and 20.62 QALYs per patient respectively. In financial terms, for CHB patients with and without cirrhosis, this would be cost-saving at a one-time treatment cost under US$11 944 and US$6694, respectively, in the USA, US$1744 and US$1001 in China, and US$12 063 and US$10 983 in Australia.
We show that in purely economic terms, a CHB cure will be highly cost-effective even if effective in only 30% of treated patients. The threshold price for cure is largely determined by the current antiviral drug costs, since it will replace a daily antiviral pill that is inexpensive and effective, although not curative. The likely need for combination therapies to achieve cure will also present cost challenges. While cost-effectiveness is important, it cannot be the only consideration, as cure will provide many benefits in addition to reduced liver disease and HCC, including eliminating the need for a long-term daily pill and reducing stigma often associated with chronic viral infection.
Encouraging data from a new study found that antiretroviral drug, tenofovir, prevented serious COVID-19 illness amongst people living with chronic Hepatitis B.
A study conducted in Spain found that antiretrovira drug tenofovir reduced the severity of COVID-19 in patients with chronic Hepatitis B.
Beatriz Mateos Muñoz, PhD Specialist in Gastroenterology and Hepatology at the Hospital Universitario Ramón in Spain, said the study analysed data from 4736 patients from 28 Spanish hospitals.
Of the 117 COVID-19 positive patients who were identified, 67 were taking tenofovir and 50 were on entecavir, an antiviral drug in the treatment of hepatitis B virus infection. Muñoz said the incidence of COVID-19 in patients on tenofovir or entecavir were similar, but that patients on entecavir “more often had severe COVID-19, required ICU, ventilatory support, had longer hospitalization or died”.
The study found that tenofovir seemed to offer some protection in patients with chronic hepatitis B infected by COVID-19.
“In multivariate logistic regression adjusted by age, sex, obesity, comorbidities and fibrosis stage, tenofovir reduced by 6-fold the risk of severe COVID-19. Patients with chronic hepatitis B on tenofovir have a lower risk of severe COVID-19 infection than those on entecavir.”
This is an excerpt from the article “Leading Researchers Highlight the Impact of COVID-19 on Global Liver Disease” on Health Policy Watch. Read more here.
Thursday 24 June 2021 (Geneva, Switzerland)– Leading hepatology researchers announced important new developments in hepatitis research at the International Liver Congress 2021 today. This includes new data on antivirals to cure Hepatitis B and Hepatitis D and the application of infusion chemotherapy with P-1 inhibitors to treat liver cancer.Other announcements included a review of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on efforts to eliminate Hepatitis C in the U.S and some encouraging data from a trial of a new liver dialysis device to treat acute on chronic liver failure (ACLF).
“Scientists and advocates have long argued that if we are realistically going to eliminate Hepatitis B, then we will need a functional cure,” said Philip Newsome, Secretary General of EASL and Professor of Experimental Hepatology and Director of the Centre for Liver Research at the University of Birmingham in the UK. “The results from the trial of RNAi therapeutic drug VIR-2218 are an encouraging example that a cure is possible sooner than later with potential real-world implications for the 300 million people living with the disease.”
Today’s official press conference highlighted five studies covering treatment and cure research for hepatitis and acute on chronic liver failure selected from over 1500 abstracts being presented at ILC 2021.
The research laboratory on Viral Hepatitis at INSERM Unit 1052 (Cancer Research Center of Lyon–CRCL) is opening a Post-Doctoral position to work on its “HBV cure” program.
The Viral Hepatitis Team has a longstanding experience in the study of the mechanisms of HBV persistence and the identification of novel targets for antiviral therapy. The laboratory is looking for a motivated candidate to work on a project focused on the characterization of novel approaches to directly target the viral minichromosome, the so-called covalently closed circular DNA (cccDNA), responsible for HBV persistence in infected cells. In particular, the project is aimed at the investigation of the use of nuclease-based strategies to hit cccDNA.
The project is integrated in a wider, international program on “HBV cure”, in which the laboratory is actively involved. Relevant in vitro and in vivo models for the study of human HBV infection and expertise in molecular virology and epigenetics are well established in the host laboratory. The candidate will also benefit from the scientific environment and technical platforms provided by the CRCL (http://www.crcl.fr). The position is available immediately.
The highly motivated candidate will have to hold a PhD and be experienced in cell culture and molecular biology. Experience in molecular virology and/or genome editing technology will be welcome.
The candidates should send their application (C.V., letter of motivation and 2 letters of recommendation) to:
Prof. Fabien Zoulim – Head of Viral Hepatitis Laboratory, INSERM U1052
e-mail: [email protected]; [email protected]
New Global Health Sector Strategies on viral hepatitis, HIV, and sexually transmitted infections are now being developed for the World Health Assembly’s consideration. Covering the period 2022-2030, the strategies will be developed through a broad consultative process with Member States, communities and other stakeholders and in alignment with the strategies of UNAIDS and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
Existing Global Health Sector Strategies on HIV, viral hepatitis and sexually transmitted infections 2016-2021 end this year and new strategies are needed to bridge the gap between 2021 and the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.
Major advances in hepatitis prevention, testing and treatment are still failing to reach 290 million people globally”
The 148th Executive Board in January 2021 considered a report on 2016-2021 progress and requested that WHO develop new strategies for 2022-2030. The report noted that despite considerable progress in some areas of prevention and treatment, most interim 2020 targets across the strategies have not been reached.
Major advances in hepatitis prevention, testing and treatment were still failing to reach the 290 million people globally unaware they are living with viral hepatitis.
In response, WHO is organizing a series of virtual briefings and consultations to inform the strategies’ development process.
To complement these consultations a series of Member State briefings will be convened in Geneva, and an online survey is available to broaden the scope for input from additional stakeholders.
WHO encourages all interested individuals and organizations to complete the online survey. The survey is currently available online in English, Spanish, Russian and French, and in the coming working days Arabic will also be available.
WHO is proposing that the three strategies, when final, will be presented in one document with an emphasis on further strengthening integration opportunities including through primary health care and collaboration with community actors. The new strategies will seek to preserve an individual approach to each disease area while also emphasizing important synergies to be found in combatting HIV, viral hepatitis and STIs collectively.