Current liver research: New drug showed high efficacy in liver cells chronically infected with hepatitis B virus

02. January 2018

If the liver is chronically infected with the hepatitis B virus (HBV), it can lead to serious sequelae of the organ, such as liver cancer. Various medicines are approved for the treatment of chronic HBV infection. However, a cure is rarely achieved: Thus, the interferon alpha treatment has only limited effectiveness. Although treatment with polymerase inhibitors effectively lowers the concentration of circulating infectious HBV DNA particles in the blood, it apparently cannot completely block HBV production in the liver. Therapeutic efforts are therefore currently focused on suppressing HBV replication to increase post-treatment positive reactions or post-treatment functional healing.

Scientists around Prof. Maura Dandri, head of sub-project A05 in Collaborative Research Center 841 and the project “HBV-Healing” at the German Center for Infection Research (DZIF), have now succeeded in working together with scientists from Novira Therapeutics Inc. to demonstrate the effectiveness of a new class antiviral agents, the capsid modulator NVR3-778, by using a model of chronic hepatitis B infection.

The results of the study are hopeful: In contrast to the currently approved polymerase inhibitors such as entecavir, the drug has not only reduced the amount of HBV DNA particles but also the levels of HBV RNA measured in the blood. In addition, with the new active ingredient in combination with pegylated interferon alpha, the HBV DNA viremia could be reduced to values well below the detection limit. Overall, NRV3-778 showed promising efficacy and high antiviral activity in liver tissue that was stably infected with HBV prior to drug administration.

Want to read more about this interesting study? Here you can find the original paper:

Klumpp K, Shimada T, Allweiss L, Volz T, Lütgehetmann M, Hartman G, Flores OA, Lam AM, Dandri M

Efficacy of NVR 3-778, Alone and in Combination With Pegylated Interferon, vs Entecavir in uPA/SCID Mice With Humanized Livers and HBV Infection
Gastroenterology. 2017 Oct 24. pii: S0016-5085(17)36276-5. doi:10.1053/j.gastro.2017.10.017. [Epub ahead of print]