Existing Interferon Alpha Based Therapy Still Beneficial for Hepatitis D

Study shows that the current hepatitis delta treatment is still effective, but researchers feel advancements could be made.

A study presented at the International Liver Congress 2016 found that the current hepatitis delta treatment, interferon alpha (IFNa) based therapy, is effective in suppressing disease progression.

Hepatitis delta only occurs in patients who already have hepatitis B. Currently, pegylated interferon is the only treatment for hepatitis delta.

"There has been significant debate over whether there are long-term benefits to patients with Hepatitis delta receiving antiviral treatment," said Anika Wranke, lead author of the study. "Our study demonstrates that the long-term outcomes for patients with severe Hepatitis delta, who have limited treatment options, could be improved with a widely available medication."

This study included 136 patients with chronic hepatitis delta. Patients received IFNa-based therapy, nucleos(t)ide analogues (NUCS) therapy, or no therapy.

Patients were followed for at least 6 months and researchers conducted a median follow-up after 5 years.

Clinical endpoints included ascites, encephalitis, esophageal bleeding, liver cancer, liver transplant, or death. The endpoints were present in 40% of patients at baseline.

Researchers saw that the clinical endpoints were seen less frequently in patients who received IFNa-based therapy than patients who received NUCS therapy or no therapy.

There were 52 patients who received IFNa-based therapy, with 18 (35%) achieving sustained suppression of the hepatitis delta virus.

"This study is evidence of the great progress being made in finding effective treatment strategies for Hepatitis delta sufferers," said Tom Hemming Karlsen, MD, PhD, EASL vice-secretary. "Additional research must be conducted to enhance antiviral treatment for this serious disease."