Experimental Drug May Offer Effective Hepatitis B Treatment

A new treatment for hepatitis B significantly reduced viral load in 4 weeks.

A recent study presented at The International Liver Congress 2016 found that the experimental drug NVR 3-778 combined with pegylated interferon can reduce levels of hepatitis B virus (HBV) genetic material after just 4 weeks.

Though current HBV treatments are able to suppress the virus, it is not common for any treatment to cure the virus.

"Previous phase 1 results with NVR 3-778 have shown reduction in HBV viral load," said Dr Man-Fung Yuen, MBBS, MD, PhD, FRCP, FHKCP, FHKAM, lead author of the study. "It is promising to see that the combination of NVR 3-778 with pegylated interferon produces responses that are greater than those seen with either monotherapy."

The study was conducted with 64 previously untreated patients for a duration of 28 days.

There were 6 cohorts within the study: 100-mg daily, 200-mg daily, 400-mg daily, 600-mg twice a day, 600-mg twice a day combined with pegylated interferon, and pegylated interferon combined with placebo.

The researchers found that NVR 3-778 was well tolerated in all patients and there were no discontinuations.

The largest reduction in HBV DNA was observed in the cohort who received NVR 3-778 and pegylated interferon combination (1.97 log IU/mL).

The HBV DNA reduction in the cohort receiving NVR 3-778 was 1.72 log10 in the 600 mg BD group.

The HBV DNA reduction in the pegylated interferon alone group was 1.06 log10.

Across all treatment groups, there was a reduction in levels of HBeAg, which indicates the virus is actively replicating in the body. The greatest reduction was seen in the NVR 3-778 group, the study found.

"The results from this study are certainly interesting and promising for the treatment of patients with hepatitis B,” said Frank Tacke, MD, PhD, EASL governing board member. "The medical community is always on the look-out for treatments which can cure this condition, as opposed to simply suppressing the replication of the virus. More research is needed to confirm whether NVR 3-778 could really change the treatment paradigm."